(Ecofin Agency) - Operators fear that the telecom sector will end up in the same situation as the Nigerian aviation sector, which is currently experiencing a crisis exacerbated by the country's foreign exchange problems.
Access to foreign currencies is difficult for Nigerian telecom operators since January 2022. . This situation, which is slowing down investment in network infrastructure, was decried by Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
"Virtually everything we use in the sector is import dependent. You talk about the base station equipment; generating sets, batteries among others. But the inability to get a foreign exchange is impacting not only expansion but also upgrades of existing infrastructure," he explained.
ALTON members are therefore calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to prioritize their access to foreign exchange as the currency supply shortage is worsening in the country, affecting every economic sector and the numerous taxes paid by operators are increasing operating costs.
“Now that we are deploying 5G, operators need access to forex, if the service must be expanded,” the ALTON chairman added.
Indeed, the Nigerian telecommunications sector is constantly growing. Operators must therefore constantly invest in upgrading and expanding their telecom infrastructure to meet the growing demand. According to figures from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the country had 210 million mobile subscribers in August 2022.
Isaac K. Kassouwi