The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has identified multiple taxation on telephone service providers by different levels of governments as a major factor militating against the attainment of quality service in the country’s telecommunication sector.
The Commission also posited that denials of rights of way for expansion of telecommunication infrastructure and vandalization of equipment work against realising the huge potentials in the telecom industry, regarded as one of the fastest growing in the world.
The Chairman of the NCC, Peter Igho, who identified these impediments to industry expansion during a courtesy call on Ondo State governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko in his Akure Office during the week, appealed to governments to ease these burdens for the sector to record the desired growth.
The NCC boss specifically appealed to Mimiko, who is a member of the National Economic Council on Multiple Taxation, Levies and Charges on ICT Infrastructure in Nigeria, under the Chairmanship of Vice-President Namadi Sambo, to further influence the reduction in the taxes and levies payable by telecommunication companies operating in Nigeria.
He described the outlined impediments as being beyond the scope of the NCC as the regulatory body of the telecommunication industry “but within the mandate of the government”, and that the commission is already tackling those under its control to achieve maximum results.
According to him, “the issue of right of way and multiple taxations deserves serious attention. There are multiple taxations and regulations that await the service providers at the various levels of government, including state governments and even some communities.
“In most cases, unfortunately, telecom masts and towers easily become specific targets for multiple taxes and regulations even where there are other masts and towers in existence, or even when appropriate taxes have been imposed at the Federal level.
“The resolution of these issues would go beyond enhancing quality of service as it would contribute to expansion of infrastructure and attraction of investment in the sector for the benefit of the nation.
“As we all know, rights of way for deployment of infrastructure determines the ease with which service providers can easily and quickly deploy or add new infrastructures at a given time and place. Related also is the vandalization of equipment across the nation, which also contributes negatively to quality of service.”
The NCC boss, who was accompanied on the visit by members of the board and management of the commission also blamed ignorance of how the communication system works across the globe on the way authorities in Nigeria seek to limit the infrastructure of the service providers especially in the erection of masts.
He said: “In the United Kingdom, there are more than 65,000 base stations for telecommunication services in a land that is far less than Nigeria’s. Nigeria is yet to achieve 25,000 installations across its huge land mass, yet many feel that we already have enough and are defacing the environment.
“This of course is causing infrastructure deficit and the situation is alreasy becoming very discouraging to the service providers who are being forced to depend on very few base stations to serve the populace.”
Igho however sought the support of the Ondo governor as the commission according to him, “is currently pursuing a major broadband infrastructure deployment programme and we would expect progressive governments to join hands with us and also plan ahead to tap on these potentials.”
He also disclosed that the commission is currently putting on efforts in the provision of Emergency Communication Centres (ECC) across the country and that by this, the NCC “has elected to assist the Federal and state governments to introduce this most desired service across the nation in partnership with state governments.
“The pilot of these centres in Awka and Minna were currently commissioned. Few more centres located in some other state would be commissioned soon. It may not be out of place to say that all citizens of Ondo state would appreciate this service.”
Mimiko who requested the NCC to assist the state in the provision of a three-digit line to be deployed in the operations of the state’s intervention programmes in healthcare delivery such as the Abiye Safe Motherhood programme, the Trauma and Kidney Care Centres, charged the commission to put in place a quality measurement mechanism ‘that will tell us the efficiency of our telecom service.”
According to him, “the perception of Nigerians that the service providers are only out to cheat them and milk them dry must be changed and the NCC must see to it because for each minute that subscribers are denied usage of their telephones through bad service, billions of naira are skimmed from them.”