Telecommunications firms in Nigeria have finally agreed to settle their ₦165 billion-worth of interconnect debt by July, Nigerian Communications Commision (NCC) has said.
The Commission’s Chairman, Umar Garba Danbatta, made this disclosure while receiving Olusola Teniola, the newly-elected President of Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in his office, yesterday.
According to Danbatta, the Commission had on Wednesday, June 6th set the deadline for the interconnect debt settlement after mediating between all parties involved. He also added that measures have been put in place to ensure that all those owing the debt start paying, even as those who are being owed eventually get to receive their money.
“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 yesterday (Wednesday) that pragmatic ways must be found to settle the debts and a deadline has been given as mid-July for the payment plan.” -Danbatta
Note that interconnection is what makes it possible for subscribers of different networks to reach each other through calls and text messages. In line with this, therefore, an interconnect debt results from a situation whereby a telco fails to pay for the cost of service rendered to it by another telco.
Meanwhile, Teniola used the occasion to raise the issue of multiple taxations in the industry which he said is a major concern. According to him, there are currently 38 different taxes being imposed on them.
Most of the taxations come from the Ministry of Finance, he said. He, therefore, stressed the need to harmonise the taxes as it is currently discouraging operators from rolling out new services.