By Love Anuforo.
The President of National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Deolu Ogunbanjo, has said that the budget allocated to the industry is grossly inadequate, The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to encourage Telecoms Operators.
The National Assembly,last week, passed the 2017 budget which was first submitted to the house by the President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Ministry of Communications Technology, under the Infrastructure sector,was allocated 16% of the 2017 budget passed by the National Assembly (NASS).
Statistically, the Infrastructure sector is the second highest allocated sector with the sum total of N1,115,919,421,988 while the Administration sector ranked first.
However, the sector’s allocation contributes 2% to the recurrent expenditure with the sum total of 114,046,068,186, to the capital expenditure it contributes the highest, 1,001,873,353,794 at 49% which is against the contribution of every other sector.
Comparing 2016 and 2017 budget , it is vivid that the increase in the 2017 budget by NASS pushed the Infrastructure allocation from 106,839,764,874 in recurrent and 744, 355, 059,958 in 2016 against the figure in 2017.
Analysts, however, reveal that the 2017 proposed budget is making a push for possible recovery of the Nigerian economy.
From checks, it is deducible that 2017 is the third year the infrastructure sector is receiving the most capital investment.
Prior to this allocation, the Information and Communication Technology’s (ICT’s) industry watchers think that more should have been allocated to the industry.
Speaking with Nigerian NewsDirect on the N8,434,669,142 allocated to the ICT industry, the National President of National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Deolu Ogunbanjo, said that the allocated budget is grossly inadequate.
The National President said that the allocated budget is grossly inadequate because a lot of businesses are now looking at internet, data and lot of applications which are being developed.
The Federal Government, in his opinion, need to assist some of these young entrepreneurs to ensure that they succeed in the development of such applications.
He reiterated the gross inadequacy of the allocated bill to the ICT ministry and expectations of Nigerians from the industry, stating that it is inadequate because the industry has increased its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution to the economy to 2 digits, suming it up to approximately 12.7 and it keeps improving. Also, a lot of jobs being created by the industry.
However, Ogunbanjo added that the present ICT situation in the country Is not commendable.
According to him, this is because of the decrease in subscribers base from the network and the reduction in the number of connected subscribers in the last 3-4 months.
Beyond that, he added, is the fact that the average revenue per user has also dropped and unfortunately the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN) is not making things easy for the telecoms industry.
To shore up the down turn of services which is dwindling, the NATCOMS national president believes that the intervention of the CBN in the cost of the importation of the telecoms equipment which is on the high side will be a remedial means.
“The draggy and almost of non existent nature of the importation in turn means that the quality of service will be affected”, he said.
However, Deolu Ogunbanjo, without mincing words, added that the operators can be made to deliver on their promises of Quality of service if the base stations in the country,which is presently over 20,000 is increased.
He went ahead to commend the fact that the telecommunication operators realized they need expansion and pumped in more money to brace up their operations. But, to him, they can’t do it alone as the CBN need to come to their aid.
In what looked like an advice, as well as a solution to the present ICT situation in the country, Ogunbanjo urged the operators to ensure they come together and present a position paper to the CBN to assist in foreign exchange allocation to the network operators.