The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Umar Danbatta, has said telecommunications companies in the country have agreed to settle the N165bn interconnect debt owed each other.
Danbatta made this known when the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Olusola Teniola, visited the NCC headquarters in Abuja.
Interconnect debt arises when an operator fails to settle the cost of termination of service rendered to it by another operator in the industry.
With interconnection, a subscriber can reach subscribers on other networks through calls and text messages.
Danbatta said, “We mediated in what the actions and powers of the commission can do in terms of a crisis like this, because there is a debt crisis in the industry. But it is being managed very well. We all agreed that pragmatic ways must be found to settle the debts and a deadline has been given as mid-July for the payment plan.
“That is pragmatic, it is being worked out in order to ensure that those who owe will start paying and those who are being owed will start receiving what is being owed to them.”
The NCC boss said states were not adhering to a document by the National Economic Council, which was supposed to ease the challenges of deploying broadband infrastructure across the country.
He added, “A document that specifies a tax of about N145 per metre length of fibre but unfortunately, states in the country are charging in excess of the amount, between N7,000 and N8,000 per metre length of fibre.
“At that meeting, one of the resolutions was that the provision of the NEC report should be respected; it is still an extant provision and therefore all states of the federation should ensure compliance with N145 per metre.”
In his remarks, Teniola sought the NCC’s assistance on the issue of multiple taxation in the sector, adding that telecoms firms were currently facing 38 different types of taxes.
“And these do not come from the telecom regulator as they come especially from the Ministry of Finance and the ministry needs to harmonise the taxes faced by the industry as it serves as a disincentive to roll out broadband services,” he said.