By Stanley Iwuoha
The lingering N70 billion interconnectivity debt being owed by various industry operators has continued to drawn the attention of critical stakeholders.
This time, was the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who described the debt as a clog in the will of progress of the Nigerian telecom sector.
Danbatta made the observation while speaking at the maiden edition of the National Dialogue on Telecoms and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sectors in Nigeria organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in collaboration with other industry stakeholders at in Abuja.
The theme of the dialogue was: “National Funding and Investment Strategy for Broadband Infrastructure and Digital Economy”.
While calling for immediate settlement of the bad debt, the NCC boss urged telecom operators in the country to show commitment in settling the huge interconnect debts being owed by various industry operators, noting that this should be resolved in the wider interest of the industry.
For him, the “interconnectivity indebtedness valued at over N70 billion is a big challenge to infrastructure expansion and inimical to healthy competition” which are needed for facilitating digital economy in Nigeria.
Speaking in the context of ‘Nigeria’s Telecom Sector: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,’ the EVC explained that access gaps in the country have been reduced from 217 in 2015 to 114.
“We have licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos); we have introduced innovative policies such as spectrum trading and spectrum farming; broadband penetration has increased from 6 percent to 43.3 per cent in the last five years. Also, from 8 per cent in 2015, the telecoms sector contributed over 14 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as in the second quarter of 2020, valued at N2.3 trillion,” he said.