NCC wades into N165b interconnectivity debt

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), yesterday said it has waded into the N165 billion interconnectivity debt dragging, so as to avert another major debt crisis in the industry.

NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the action of the regulatory body became necessary given the concerns raised by stakeholders regarding the way and manner the debt was piling up and its negative impacts on the industry, as well as the lukewarm attitude of the debtors in paying their debts.

He said NCC intervened by conveying a meeting of stakeholders as a pragmatic approach towards addressing the problem,  adding that a time frame had been given for “those owing to start paying and those being owed to start receiving what is due them.”

The EVC spoke at the NCC Headquarters, Abuja, while granting audience to the newly elected Executive Members of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) led by its President,  Mr Olusola Teniola.

Danbatta said: “It is N165 billion interconnectivity debt and yesterday because of the realisation of what this debt burden can do to the industry, we arranged an important meeting of all the telecoms company, where we mediated.

“Mediation in terms of what the Act empowers the commission to do in times of crisis like this. There is a debt crisis in the industry, but it is being managed very well.

“We all agree at yesterday’s sitting that pragmatic ways must be found to settle the debts. I think a deadline has been given, mid-July for payment plans and I think this is pragmatic in order to ensure that those that are owing start paying and those that are being owed start receiving what is due them.”

Danbatta also said the present administration is leaving no stone unturned on the issue of right of way (RoW) and the deployment of broadband infrastructures across the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, regretting that up till now, the charges being slammed on service providers in the states are not consistent with the Nigerian Economic Council (NEC) document.

He urged the states to comply with the agreed N145 per metre length of fibre deployment in states as against the N8,000 and N9,000 being charged at the moment, saying should the state governors comply with the content of the document, it would also lead to transformation in all sectors of the states’ economy.

Danbatta who said the country has achieved 22 per cent broadband penetration against the 30 per cent being targeted by the end of the year, noted that NEC, under the leadership Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is working towards additional 18 per cent broadband penetration as part of the administration’s industrial policy and competitiveness to transform the nation’s economy.

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