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MTN’s recent experience in profit off take contrary to Minister’s position at ITU

Observers in the nation’s telecoms industry have reacted to the call on investors by the Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, to come to Nigeria, stressing that many investors are still confused on how best they can move their return on investment back to their country of origin.

The minister is the leader of the Nigerian delegation to ongoing 2016 International telecommunications Union (ITU) conference and exhibitions, in Bangkok, Thailand. He spoke at the formal opening of the Nigeria Pavilion.

Many of stakeholders who reviewed the minister’s clarion call on investors to the nation’s ICT sector said government was economical with words on ways to repatriate profits without running the risk, similar to the experience of leading telecoms investor, MTN Nigeria.

It would recalled that MTN Nigeria was recently questioned by the Senate alongside other banks and government personnel to explain how and why they took what belongs to them between 2006 and this year.

The Senate had alleged that MTN surreptitiously transferred its own $13.9 billion out of the country in the last 10 years, but the telecoms giant had denied the allegations saying it never breached any known law in the process.

The noise and media trial of the scenario, according to experts are enough to scare away investors who are willing to invest in Nigeria.

Some of the analysts, who have called on the Senate to forget the probe, said such acts run contrary to calls by government officials on investors to come to Nigeria.

Barr. Shittu had on Tuesday during Nigeria’s presentation at the ITU wooed international telecoms investors with tax holiday, and other incentives, but was silent on assurance to the prospective investors on the ease in repatriating their profits after all.

The minister said Nigeria presents the highest return on investment and urged investors to take advantage of the huge market that Nigeria offers. He listed areas of investment to include deployment of broadband infrastructure, internet provision, equipment manufacturing and assembly, content development, e-applications namely e-government, e-learning etc. He said the testimony of old investors in the Nigerian market is enough to encourage new entrants.

Responding to the minister’s presentation, ITU Secretary General, Houlin Zhao, agreed that Nigeria remains one of the most promising telecom markets in the world. He said the ITU would be willing to offer all necessary assistant to Nigeria to help her grow the telecom market and extend services to the rural communes.

Operating in the same page with the Minister, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, said investment opportunities exist in abundance in broadband deployment which currently stands at 21%. He said the vision of the agency as driven by his 8-point agenda will assist any genuine investor to succeed.