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Experts advocate proper local content policy for telecoms growth

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IMAGE: Austin Okere, group chief executive officer of CWG Plc, »


Industry experts are of the view that the development of appropriate local content policy is required to propel Nigeria’s telecommmunications industry forward.

The telecoms sector has so far attracted over $40 billion invest-ments and employed over one million Nigerians, 13 years after its deregulation, according to the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE). Mobile subscriber base has grown from less than 500, 000 lines in 2001 to 130 million active lines in 2014, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). To further sustain this enormous growth, Austin Okere, group chief executive officer, CWG Plc, has advise stakeholders in the industry to desist from stampeding the regulator into taking actions that will impede the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the sector.

Speaking at the ATCON Telecom Executives and Regulator’s Forum in Lagos, he said, “we should not confuse local content with taking businesses from foreign investors and handing them over to locals without recourse to technical ability and financial capability within the value chain”.

Austin says that while telecoms operation requires huge financial outlay, the rewards are slow in terms of manifestation. For example, Etisalat, he said, with over 15 million mobile subscribers, has admitted that it is not making any profit despite huge investments ploughed into nectwork expansion since inception.

“Many of the local CDMA operators are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain the heavy investments needed to make their networks viable, and are haemorrhage subscribers at an alarming rate, threatening their very existence”, added the CWG boss.

Austin made a distinction between the capital-intensive laying of communication pipes which he refers to as ‘plumbing’, and the utilisation of the pipes to provide value added services such as Ecommerce. In his view, local entrepreneurs will benefit more in the value chain by taking advantage of the communication infrastructure to launch hitherto unrealisable business models as has been demonstrated by Jumia, Konga, and his own company CWG Plc, which has taken advantage of the pervasive broadband infrastructure in the country to launch a cloud-based subscription business providing technology to SMEs tagged CWG 2.0.

Speaking in the same vein, Eugene Juwah, executive vice chairman, NCC, challenged local operators to ensure that they imbibe adequate skills and have access to finance, and also display the requisite commitment, in order to be taken seriously. According to Engr. Juwah “CDMA is dying because of lack of adequate investment capital”, “Telecoms is not for small companies, be capable or you will die”, he continued. He announced that the result of the Infraco bidding exercise shall soon be announced.

On the issue of spectrum, he reiterated that the policy of spectrum vending shall continue while the advertisement of information memorandum for the 2.6 GHz spectrum shall be advertised in the coming days. Other issues deliberated upon were multiple taxation, right of way, vandalism, security and smart city initiatives.

Article Credit: Businessdayonline

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     Nigerian Communications Austin Okere     ATCON Telecom Executives