Business Hilights
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Telecoms items may be the first to be delisted from 41 items on CBN’s forex ban


Barring any last minute change of plans, strong indication emerged on Thursday that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is considering delisting all telecoms items which fall under plants and machinery in the 41 items barred from flexible forex access of the apex banks window.

A credible source at the bank confided in Business Hilights in an exclusive interview in Abuja in Thursday, saying “I think the bank had been under serious pressure both from telecoms operators and the regulators to look at the matter for interest of the industry”.

“The bank has received several memos on this matter and a pronouncement may be made very soon on that so that the sector will be up and running much better.

It would be recalled that earlier in the week, the CBN’s governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele averred that lifting the embargo on some critical items are on his mind, but the bank is still consulting and watching developments.

But one of the items he vowed not to think of lifting ban on is toothpick.

Before now, several telecoms stakeholders has been complaining that the forex access challenge is hobbling the industry to the extent that some companies are on the verge of collapse which will cause loss of jobs.

According to the chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, a fresh crisis is looming in the telecommunications sector, as Foreign Service providers and equipment suppliers have threatened to disconnect their Nigerian counterparts over an alleged breach of agreement.

In his submission during a recent roundtable session with ICT Editors in Lagos, he revealed that several foreign firms are lamenting the inability of some Nigerian telecommunications operators to honour their financial obligations in Foreign Exchange (FX) to them.

He said “If this is not timely and adequately addressed, the about 150 million active subscribers may encounter challenges putting a call through from Nigeria to Europe, America and other parts of the world. It is going to be equally difficult for the local firms to procure equipment for expansion of their services in Nigeria and that could further lower the quality of service in the country”.

Adebayo, who disclosed the threat, said some of the foreign vendors had issued a notice of disconnection of service to their Nigerian counterparts, which could disrupt service availability with attendant negative impact on customers’ experience any time soon.

Though ALTON boss was economical with more revelations on the companies currently suffering the threat, findings by Business Hilights disclosed that some service providers including AT&T, T-Mobile, Orange Telecom, and some leading equipment vendors, such as Sony, Comat and Metracom are on the neck of some local operators.

Besides, the president of Association of telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engr. Olusola Teniola told our correspondent in a telephone interview that poor access to forex by his members are forcing operators to abandon routine turnaround maintenance of their networks which he linked to the observed poor Quality of Service (QoS) in the industry both in voice and data services.

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