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NCC Hints Of Plan To Address Infrastructure Deficit In Telecoms

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Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Danbatta, has asserted that the deployment of telecoms infrastructure across rural communities in the country remains the focus of the Federal Government.
Danbatta made this declaration at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, while delivering a keynote address at the 2021 National Conference, Exhibition, and Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, recently.
Danbatta who spoke on a sub-theme, ‘Strategic Collaboration between the Town and Gown for Effective Rural Development’, said that the vision of the Federal Government as enunciated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020-2030) and the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) had been vigorously implemented.
He explained that the NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, streamlined in the Commission’s Strategic Vision Plan (2021-2025) to enhance operational and regulatory efficiency, aligned with the Federal Government’s vision for an all-inclusive digital economy.
According to him, to improve Nigeria’s broadband infrastructure, the NCC has divided Nigeria into seven zones, consisting of the existing six constitutional geo-political divisions, and Lagos constituting the seventh division in view of its importance as a strategic commercial and technological hub in the country.
“The NCC has proceeded to licence companies for each of the seven zones, to deploy broadband infrastructure that will ensure speed of up to 25 megabits per second in the rural areas. Each of the 774 local government areas of Nigeria will have an initial access point of at least 10 megabits per second”, he said.
The NCC boss disclosed that the licensed companies, otherwise known as Infrastructure Companies (Infracos), had been directed to move to site to cascade broadband infrastructure to the hinterland.
He affirmed that there was timeframe for the implementation of these projects, including the building of specialised technology centres in the rural areas to enable stakeholders to harness huge benefits of ICT.
According to him, the NCC is waiting to see the Infracos demonstrate creditable level of deployment in the cities and also discharge the burden of proof of the existence of access points in LGAs in the next five months.
Otherwise, he said that the Commission may have to take firm regulatory decisions in the interest of the Nigerian people and start-ups, who have been waiting for the deployment of rural tech solutions to make contributions to the growth of the economy by exploring derivable benefits that accrue from a digitised economy.
Danbatta said NCC would continue to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to enhance innovation, competition and participation in governance by the citizenry, which is one of the hallmarks of digital culture.
The NCC chief executive disclosed that Nigeria already has about 40,000 unique transceiver stations and their uniqueness is underpinned by their characteristics as enablers of 2G, 3G and 4G technologies.
He, however, said that this figure is inadequate for a country like Nigeria with a huge size and population, noting “the United Kingdom with less population has over 60,000 of such stations”.

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Association  Tasks Politicians On Internet Market 

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The Global System for Mobile telecommunications Association (GSMA) has warned that market imbalances between network operators and online service providers could stall growth in several sectors of the internet-based economy, and called on politicians to urgently address the issue.
In its GSMA 2022 Internet Value Chain report, the trade association noted factors including asymmetric regulation and restrictions, sector-specific taxes, and spectrum costs are squeezing the business models of infrastructure providers whilst allowing big tech to thrive.
The body noted that those in charge of setting laws and regulations must consider the interdependence of online services and other growth sectors on the underlying infrastructure investment.
In a recent statement obtained online by the Press, its Chairman, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, said “growing recognition of this issue by policymakers is important, especially as the Internet-based economy expands across all sectors over the next decade”.
The report encouraged  decision makers to consider the full landscape of taxation and regulation.
It also advised   companies investing in infrastructure  to build and upgrade the networks, which underpin online services.
The study found revenue across the internet value chain doubled in five years, from $3.3 trillion in 2015 to $6.7 trillion in 2020, noting that much of this growth comes from online services, revenue from which increased 19 per cent per year in 2020.
However, the return on investment in infrastructure for network operators was far lower, at between six per cent and 11 per cent.
The GSMA noted that operators are receiving less than 10 per cent returns on capital because of pressure to invest up to 20 per cent of revenue in capex.
The body  further revealed that the Internet continues to grow at a pace in terms of users, services and, most of all, traffic.
It stressed that the growth was relentless, adding that there is much more to go.
“The number of people with access to the internet has reached 4.6 billion in 2020 (via either fixed or mobile networks), an increase of 44 per cent since 2015 and a yearly growth rate of 7.5 per cent.

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MTN Begins PSaB  Services In Nigeria

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MTN Nigeria’s fintech subsidiary, MoMo Payment Service Bank (MoMo PSB) Limited,  has formally commenced PSB operations sequel to the recent approval of the service by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Network provider said, this follows a successful pilot initiated on May 16, 2022, which was in commemoration of the launch of its  GSM operations on May 16, 2001 and listing by introduction on the Nigerian Stock Exchange Limited on May 16, 2019.
It described the listing as  key milestone in delivering the company’s Ambition 2025 strategic priorities.
Also, in a stock market statement, Airtel Africa announced that its subsidiary, SmartCash PSB, had started providing services through selected retail outlets with plans to expand across Nigeria in the coming months.
Airtel Africa secured a full Payment Service Bank licence from the CBN through its subsidiary in April, having received an in-principle approval in 2021.
MTN informed that a market activation took place recently at Oke-Arin market in Marina, Lagos, where traders were shown how to open a MoMo wallet, by simply dialing *671# on any network.
It also hinted that the system allows subscribers the opportunity to  send money to any mobile phone in the country as well as buy airtime/data and as well,  pay bills.
The telecommunications firm said in addition to delivering a wide range of digitised payment services aimed at removing the friction from everyday payment by digitising cash payment, MoMo wallets in the future will also enable account holders to receive inbound remittance from any country in the world.
With an expansive agent network of over 166,000 active agents and digitised partnership infrastructure, MTN claimed that MoMo PSB is poised to enable millions of unbanked and underserved Nigerians to access a wide range of financial service products.
Chief Executive Officer  of MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola,  said the company was grateful to the CBN for its  support and guidance through the process.
Toriola noted that it was an important milestone for MTN Nigeria in its  mission to support the delivery of financial services to everyone in the country.
In his reaction, the MoMo PSB CEO, Usoro Usoro, noted that providing easy to use, accessible and affordable financial services to all Nigerians was  essential to executing the CBN’s financial inclusion strategy and the digital inclusion agenda of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
Usoro said his firm was looking forward to playing its  part, saying that it was excited about the opportunities to partner with relevant institutions across various sectors to co-create and expand access nationwide.
According to Airtel Africa, the licence allows it to deliver what it described at the time as a full suite of mobile money services.
Airtel Africa CEO, Segun Ogunsanya, pledged to revolutionise financial services in Nigeria and drive inclusion.

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FG Increases Call Rate By 9%

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The Federal Government has placed a new tax on phone calls in Nigeria, saying it is to enhance funding for free healthcare for the Vulnerable Group in the country
It would be recalled that telecommunication companies had made moves to increase the price of its services as a result of an unfavourable operating climate.
In the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2021 signed by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, last week, section 26 of the act provides that the source of money for the Vulnerable Group Fund includes telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls.
“Section 26 of this new law imposes a telecommunications tax of not less than 1kobo per second on GSM calls. With call rates at about 11kobo per second, this translates to a 9 per cent tax on GSM calls,” it said.
Fiscal Policy Partner and Africa Tax Leader at Price Waterhouse Coopers, Taiwo Oyedele,  noted that Section 26 of the  new law imposes  telecommunications tax of not less than 1kobo per second on GSM calls.
With call rates at about 11kobo per second,  Oyedele said that it stood for  about nine  per cent tax on  GSM calls.

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