Adebayo Shittu, communications Minister has asked Nigerians to brace for a price rise while making a case for telecom service providers, which according to the minister were operating under unfriendly business environment including lack of electricity and increasing security challenges.
But the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) said it intervened with an interim price floor for data services to avert a looming price war in the telecommunications sector.
The regulatory commission said it feared that the price war could eventually lead to a monopoly in the telecom industry that would force small operators to shut down.
It said that monopoly in the telecom sector could also push the country back to the days of NITEL – the troubled government-owned telco – to the detriment of small operators.
Prof. Umar Dambatta, NCC executive vice chairman stated this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Communications.’
The committee was mandated to investigate the proposed data tariff hike said to have been ordered by the NCC.
But the minister, said the reality was that telecom service providers are operating in an unfriendly business environment, including lack of electricity and increasing security challenges.
He said: “This is one area that I believe that we all must face the reality… If you look at the NCC law, it is positioned to reflect experiences, expertise and all of that and I want to believe that there must not be too many interventions in the activities of the NCC.
“I am a political office holder. I am not an expert, so I cannot venture to say whether they did wrong or right, except they say that the constitution has granted them the role of a supervisor of a direct regulatory authorities, particularly relating to the activities in the telecoms industry.
“The only area I feel they were deficient was in the area of communicating with the people of this country, particularly because of the sensitivity that has been imposed on Nigerians by the harsh economic situation.
“I know that if you want to make omelet you must break eggs. Unfortunately in this country, we fail to appreciate the transformation role that ICT has brought about in the lives of Nigerians.
“So, I am not supporting at this stage or not supporting the price increase with regards to the floor. But what I am saying is, these are technical issues whose decision must be taken having regard to all the factors that are important before a decision can be taken.