AFC seeks measures against telecoms sector challenges in Nigeria

MastAFRICA Finance Corporation (AFC) has called on governments at all levels of governance in Nigeria to act fast by resolving several challenges confronting the country’s telecommunications sector, if further investments are to be witnessed in 2015 and beyond.

   AFC, a $1.4 billion investment corporation, established in 2007 as a private sector-led investment bank and development finance institution created to help mobilize and channel required capital towards driving Africa’s economic development.

   AFC, whose mission is to address Africa’s development needs in a profitable way, creating benefits for both investors and societies in the region, noted that challenges such as multiple taxation; poor access to infrastructure and roll out; erratic power generation and supply among others are have impacted negatively on the telecommunications sector, which could do more damages this year and beyond.

   Speaking to The Guardian, at the launch of MainOne Cable’s Data Centre in Lagos, the President and Chief Executive Officer of AFC, Andrew Alli said the growth of the sector in Nigeria has been tremendous, stressing that it has become a reference point for other markets in Africa and other part of the world.

   But, Alli was quick to say that for the sector to move forward and contribute more significantly to Nigeria’s economy, Nigeria must act fast to mitigate the increasing challenges confronting the sector.

   For instance, Alli lamented that there has been huge access challenge, despite the enormous resources in the country, especially bandwidth.

   According to him, access to capacity has been made more expensive because of multiple taxes government place on operators. “Telecoms sector is seen as something that has huge revenue, even private companies over charge for rent. Government at Federal, state and local levels charge hugely on the operations of operators. It is very expensive to roll-out and obviously those cost are passed to end users, which makes capacity to become more expensive and increase cost of doing business.”

   The AFC President also frowned at the poor infrastructure build out in Nigeria, especially power, stressing that most operators still pay hugely to generate power on their won.

    Alli also lamented the increasing skill gaps in the country, stressing that skilled personnel are seriously lacking in Nigeria.

     While calling for improved curriculum, Alli asked Nigerian universities to up their game by churning out skilled graduates that will make the country more competitive.

     Speaking on MDXi, the AFC boss said with the revolution that will erupt from data services, such requires a facility and infrastructure that can guarantee safety and that we have seen in MainOne’s data center.

      Though, he admitted that Nigeria was yet to get there in terms of broadband revolution, “the digital economy is healthy and growing. But somehow more concentrated in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja, there is need to roll out services across the country. We have observed that Nigerians are energetic and highly creative but lack of access has been a huge challenge. So if that can be resolved adequately, the revolution will be visible.”

      Alli, who said AFC has been supporting MainOne since 2008, disclosed that the corporation has about 25 per cent shares in the company and own a smaller share in MXT, one of MainOne’s management firms.

      According to him, operators like MainOne still contend with risk including implementation; market and operational.

      Alli said implementation risk is about how and when a project will be completed; market risk involves the acceptability and market response to such product and operational risk, which is how to ensure continuity in the face of challenges including poor infrastructure; lack of access to capacity and multiple taxation among others.

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