Energy/Forex Crises: NCC Sustains Stakeholder Engagement To Avert Tariff Hike

Yemisi Izuora

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is currently sustaining key government agencies to ensure access to foreign exchange spreads among players in the telecommunications industry.

At the same time, the Commission is advocating that the industry switches to alternative energy solutions which provides cheaper electricity now that diesel cost is on the rise.

While the efforts are going on the Agency, said any tariff hike may not be approved at the moment as he called on mobile network operators (MNOs), Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Towercos, among others to switch to alternative power source in the meantime.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, informed them that the Federal Government is working assiduously to solve the energy crisis in the country, but until then renewable energy, including solar is recommended to MNOs, ISPs, among others pending when diesel becomes affordable.

Towercos and other telecoms service providers have been struggling to remain in business due to high energy costs in the country for about three months and some of the towercos are rationing diesel at their sites to ensure services are sustained.

This rationing appears to have contributed to the drop in service quality, both voice and data in some particular areas.

Danbatta, at a post-event interview in Lagos, however, said: “MNOs and ISPs have been urged to look for alternative sources of energy for now so that services can remain afloat. They need to come up with new business cases. You cannot rely on the same business case and expect a different result. We need to be innovative, collaborative, engage each other and find how we can solve the challenges before us so that the growth of the sector is not stalled. I am for alternative energy supply so that we can ensure that the sector remains vibrant and continues to provide services for Nigerians at affordable cost.”

The EVC reminded that the energy cost cuts across all the sectors of the economy, stressing that aviation, transport, manufacturing sectors and homes are feeling the impact as well, “we must find alternatives to stay afloat as an industry.”

On the planned increase in telecoms services cost, the NCC EVC reiterated that it is difficult to just increase tariffs in the sector, stressing that “Doing such will amount to doing things anecdotally. We normally do things scientifically at NCC.

“We engage the services of consultants that are experts in the area of cost based studies to study each and every segment of the sector and come up with recommendations as to whether there is a need for an increase in the cost of services in that particular segment. Even before we come out with any determination, we usually ensure stakeholders’ contributions. Before you can force new tariffs on citizens, you must subject the matter to a stakeholder meeting because consumers must have a say in the matter.”

He disclosed that last week, stakeholders met with Minister of Communications, Pantami, “who assured that the Ministry is meeting with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure FOREX is available to operators in the sector to ensure services remain afloat.”

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