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Nigerian telecom firms bemoan ‘negative publicity’

ALTCOM says operators’ role in growing Nigeria’s economy is overlooked.

Nigerian telecommunications firms say their contribution to the local economy has been overlooked amid negative publicity surrounding their operations.

The umbrella body of the firms, the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTCOM), says its is disappointed that industry regulators only emphasise a “few lapses” of operators without considering their role in the growth of the economy.

Chairman of ALTCOM, Gbenga Adebayo, said the industry has continued to attract negative criticism, which portrayed it and its players in a bad light.

Adebayo said that while the sector welcomed criticism, the negative publicity received by operators from the regulatory agency was not in the best interest of the economy.

Telecoms firms and the local regulatory agency have been involved in war of words with both sides accusing each other of failing in their responsibilities.

While the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) accused telecoms firms of providing poor quality services, the operators accused the commission of being too harsh on them.

The operators argued that despite the alleged operating environment they find themselves, they had continued to make every effort to provide the best telecoms services in the country.

The NCC has threatened to sanction the firms in the country if there are no significant improvement on the services.

Adebayo said that the telecoms sector was now a major contributor to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), as its contribution amounts to ‘over 10%’.

“It is unfortunate that our telecoms sector, which is currently driving the growth of the economy, is being perceived in a bad light because of quality of service issues.

"The sector is currently contributing more to the GDP than even the banking industry. Despite these achievements, the industry is still being perceived badly.

"This trend is not good for us as it makes investors to shy away from this market because of the continuous negative criticisms,” he said.

The ALTON executive said the industry was also one of the highest and consistent contributors to foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country over the past 13 years.

“The industry is one of the most functional public service infrastructure when compared with other social infrastructure such as power and transport, among others.

"It has provided significant support for small and medium-scale enterprises to thrive and has helped in job creation; and most of all, it is an industry that is one of the highest employers of labour and the most contributor to our national human capital development,” he said.

Airtel, Etisalat, Glo and MTN dominate the mobile network services sector in Nigeria, which has over 100 million subscribers.

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