By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
Inability to expand capacity by way of buying new equipment and inability to pay for equipment already ordered are some of the challenges confronting operators in the information communication technology (ICT) sector in Nigeria, no thanks to the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that has taken the dollar out of circulation, says Spectranet.
The policy has turned operators into debtors as they cannot get dollars to pay for equipment imported into the country, says the Chief Executive Officer of Spectranet, David Venn. Spectranet is a major internet service provider (ISP), reputed for offering high speed internet services, using the latest technology which is 4G or long term evolution (LTE).
Venn, who spoke with ICT reporters during an interactive session in Lagos, lamented that the policy has messed up planning, especially for businessmen that depend on imported equipment such as Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) to offer high quality services to customers in the country.
He further lamented that with the poor credit rating of the country in the international community as a result of the dollar crunch, accessing credit has become Herculean task.
Venn said even firms that had placed orders for equipment cannot pay again because the dollars to pay with are not available anywhere in the country.
According to him, the major challenge with the dollar drought is that the technology firm has the cash in naira but cannot get dollar to buy to pay for goods and services. According to him, international bandwidth requisite for the delivery of super fast broadband internet services and equipment are sourced from outside the country in dollars, lamenting that the forex squeeze has disrupted the capacity expansion plans of the firm.
He said in last year, naira exchanged for a dollar at about N160, adding that now, it officially exchanges for over N200. He said it is even difficult to get dollars at the N200 rate, stressing that it is sourced at N300, arguing that even at that, the forex is not there at all.
During an interactive session with reporters in Lagos too, the CEO of MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman lamented that it has also become increasingly difficult to import equipment into the country because of the forex policy.
He said good service quality is a function of several factors one of which is the availability of BTS which serve as bridge between telecoms service end users and the network.
The inability to import equipment into the country therefore means that capacities will remain the way they are while the subscribers will be at the receiving end.