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Buhari directs MTN, others to review data charges

By News Desk

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed telecommunications companies, particularly MTN Group, to begin downward review of data charges and improve their operational capacity, saying the service providers must bring to bear their standards at all times and make available top of the range service to their Nigerian subscribers without glitches.

He added that the companies must continue in their stride of offering affordable and quality service to Nigerians, particularly with current reality of worldwide interconnectivity where everything depends on usage on internet access been provided by service providers across the world.

Aside from providing quality services, the president also urged the companies to support his administration in making broadband widely available and affordable for Nigerians, irrespective of their economic reality and their location across the country.

Speaking on Friday when he received in audience members of the board of MTN Group led by its President and Chief Executive Officer, Ralph Mupita, president Buhari said that with the market value been created for the companies, particularly MTN by Nigerian population, it was important the companies give back to Nigerians through providing affordable broadband.

Addressing the MTN’s team, the president said: “Nigeria is your most lucrative market in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as the source of a third of the income of the entire MTN Group. As such, we urge you to offer top-of-the-range and affordable service to Nigerians.

“As we seek to make broadband widely available and affordable, we urge MTN to continue to support our efforts by expanding high quality connectivity to Nigerians in unserved and underserved areas.”

The president also called on the group to support the implementation of the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector.

“I recently unveiled and launched the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector. I call on MTN to support the implementation of this Policy and train and engage more Nigerians in your company.

“In particular, we would like you to continue to support our efforts by improving the Quality of Service and enabling a downward price review of the cost of data and other services, in view of your large market in Nigeria. We also urge you to step up your Corporate Social Responsibility programs and support Research and Development that will enhance your services in Nigeria.”

He assured his visitors that his administration was doing everything possible to make Nigeria investor-friendly by addressing identified challenges:

“We are implementing a number of policies and programmes to ensure that institutions like MTN have a conducive environment for doing business in Nigeria. Our massive jump in the Global Ease of Doing Business Ranking is proof that our efforts are yielding positive results.

“We have identified and addressed the key challenges that affected the growth of the digital economy sector. One of such challenges was the high Right of Way costs and another was the vandalisation of critical national infrastructure.

“I am happy to note that the Right of Way charges have now been pegged at a maximum of N145/linear metre and I have given directives for the protection of Critical National Infrastructure and this has addressed the issue of vandalisation of such infrastructure. Service providers should always appreciate the effort of government and not undermine it.”

Furthemore, Buhari expressed his delight that the Information and Communications Technology sector was doing very well despite the global economic downturn.

According to him, “the Information and Communications Technology sector was the fastest growing sector in both the fourth quarter of 2020 and the entire year 2020, based on the Report by the National Bureau of Statistics. The sector’s 14.70% double digit growth rate played a principal role in supporting our country to exit the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The growth rate of the sector exceeded four times the next fastest growing sector of Q4 2020, which had a growth rate of 3.42%. This is truly commendable.”

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