…as ALTON urges regulator to help operators in debt
By Bukola Olanrewaju & Bakare Idris
In order to encourage healthy competition among the telecommunication operators in Nigeria, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has embarked on another periodical study to assess the level of competition in the industry.
This was made know at a stakeholder’s forum on the study of the level of competition in the telecommunication industry in Nigeria, held in Lagos on last week Wednesday.
The NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Professor Umar Danbatta who was represented by the Director Policy Competition & Economic Analysis, Josephine Amuwa said, “Competitive markets are the cornerstone of a vibrant telecommunications industry as it encourages innovations and fosters efficiency.
“It is in line with the commission mandate to ensure the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services throughout the country”, Danbatta noted.
The EVC stated that the Commission in the exercise of its regulatory functions as provided for in Nigerian Communication Act (NCA), 2003, engaged a consultant KPMG Professional Services to conduct a Study on the Assessment of the Level of Competition in the Nigerian Telecommunications Industry in 2013.
The outcome of that assessment, Prof. Danbatta noted, resulted in the definition of relevant market segments and a determination of dominance in some of those market segments.
According to him, following the successes realized, it became necessary to conduct another assessment of the competition in the market.
Following the success of the 2013 determination and activities in the telecom industry since then, it became necessary to conduct another assessment of the competition in the market. As such, the commission has engaged the services of Messers CT Worx Limited to conduct a study on the level of competition in the Nigerian telecommunications industry, using the 2013 as baseline year”, he said.
Speaking further, Danbatta disclosed that the study would enable the commission to evaluate the level of competition within the various market segments of the Nigerian telecommunications industry.
“It will identify the factors determining the degree of competition in telecommunications industry in Nigeria and also help to evaluate the commission’s interventions toward deepening competition.
More so the study will identify areas that require improvement and benchmark these practices against international standards and good practices.
“It will identify indicators for evaluating the level of competition in the various telecommunications market segments, helps to determine dominance, if any, and propose obligations to be imposed on dominant operators in any market segment where such is determined to exist”, he said.
Danbatta also added that key focus of the forum is centered on gaining an understanding of the methodologies and the instruments (ques-tionnaires) being adopted by the consultant to assess the level of competition, to also entertain questions and comments and comments on the presentation delivered by the consultants at the forum and lastly to secure operators commitment on the objective, complete and timely feedback to the questionnaires.
The Chairman, Association of Tele-communications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo at the event called on stakeholders to look into the indebtedness of smaller telecom operators and support them to survive competition.
Adebayo said that reports and studies had shown that big telecom operators survive more than small ones, he therefore urged NCC to identify smaller operators in debt and help them.
“We should not only ask for the amount these smaller operators are owing, but also know who they are owing.
“It might be that these companies are not willing to owe but, because of some circumstances beyond their control, they owe; we need to address this. More focus should be placed on smaller telecom players with the aim of asking questions that will reveal their true status,’’ he said.
Adebayo said that when he assumed office as ALTON Chairman, he was overseeing about 35 strong operating companies.
“Now, we are just 15 or 16 and I kept asking what went wrong. “Is it a possibility of wrong policies or regulations, or market forces”, he questioned.
There is need to have some light into all these, Adebayo addressed the fact.
The ALTON chairman said that there were multiple taxes by some states. “It is cheaper to do business in some states of the federation than others, while they render the same services,’’ he revealed.