Nigeria telecoms expanding

By Melissa Lesh

15 April 2014 at 10:31 BST

Nigerian telecoms is in the midst of a growth spurt, and it is doing so under international scrutiny thanks to its adjusted GDP rating.

The NNPC had five GMDs from 2010-14, panicking foreign operators wanting to develop long-term oil and gas business with Nigeria Niyazz

This week, the UN Statistical Commission announced that Nigeria has the biggest economy in Africa, thanks in large part to its telecommunications sector.  Nigeria’s GDP is now estimated at $510bn  - an 89% rise from the antiquated $270bn calculation which didn’t factor in  telecoms and other big industries.  Prior to the updated figures, South Africa held the title for best African economy. The Nigerian President predicts that the improved GDP will encourage more foreigners to invest, but many doubt anything else will change.  A Nigerian tweeted: “Our rebasing story is like the story of a woman that decided to give her husband four pieces of meat by dividing the tiny one into four.”

Growing pains

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Consumer Protection Council (CPC) have joined forces to improve Nigeria’s telecoms Quality of Service (QoS).  Last month, service providers MTN, Airtel, and Globacom were cumulatively fined NGN647.5 million ($4m) by the NCC for not providing good service.  Subscribers have been subject to frequent dropped calls, network congestion, poor voice quality, and flawed billing.  The committee formed by the NCC and CPC has two weeks to form a report of recommendations for how the telecoms sector can improve.  A main cause of the poor QoS is the rapid growth of subscribers; network operators are not equipped with a big enough network infrastructure to accommodate them all.  Nigeria’s telecoms market is rated the second largest in the world, and receives the most Foreign Direct Investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Improvements: innovative and accessible service

Phase 3 Telecoms has offered one improvement already; yesterday it finalized plans to increase broadband throughout Nigeria by installing 3000 km of optic fibre.  Phase 3 CEO Stanley Jegede said the project will be completed by October 2015.

MTN, a Nigerian ICT company, is partnering with utility provider Nova-Lumos to create a “mobile electricity” service.  Nova-Lumos will use their solar-panel technology to provide electricity to rural MTN subscribers who aren’t connected to the electricity grid.  MTN Nigeria CEO Michael Ipoki said: “By paying for usage only in small payments, the same way our customers purchase airtime and other mobile services, MTN and Nova-Lumos will offer an innovative and widely-accessible service for all MTN customers.”

Sources: IB Times, Sun News Online, The Guardian, Humanipo


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