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ATCON @ AGM, seeks removal of ICT equipments from 41 items restricted in forex access

The Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has traced the observed drop in the level investments in the telecoms sector to the prevailing restriction of forex access to some basic equipment needed in the development of the sector.

The group said most of the items needed for the industry are contained in the 41 items currently banned from access foreign exchange.

Giving the details while addressing the press shortly after the Annual general meeting (AGM) of the group in Lagos on Thursday, President of ATCON, Engineer Olusola Teniola said “Many Nigerians have been feeling the brunt of the policy especially in the dropping level of quality of service since the introduction of the restriction policy on 41 items by the government. It is so because strategic parts used in upgrading and maintaining critical telecoms infrastructure are part of the restriction.

Continuing, he recalled that “Even at the time of the introduction of the policy last year, ATCON made a presentation to the government on the dangers but government failed to understand our plights, today everybody is feeling the impacts by virtue of not only drop in quality of service but in ebbing level of ICT contributions to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

“Recall that before the policy, ICT remains one of the highest contributors to the growth of GDP in Nigeria but latest data show a serious drop and that may not be good for an ailing economy like Nigeria.

Accordingly, ATCON in unison, called on the government to do the needful by removing ICT related materials from the forex restriction list so that the sector can grow better than before.

Teniola added that even the latest forex window for SMEs which was kept at $20,000 will not be accessible to telecoms companies because of the restriction.

On the issue of Spectrum trading, he said his group is still looking onto the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to come up with a working document so that stakeholders will understand its direction as soon as possible.

He called on members to brace up to infrastructure sharing and co-location as a way of reducing costs of production and growing partnership in the industry.

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