After Etisalat’s exit, foreign telco partners have now threatened disconnection over unpaid bills
Foreign telecommunications partners have threatened to disconnect their Nigerian partners as a result of failed payments. The threats, if carried out, could lead to difficulties in making international calls from the country to other countries in Europe, America and other parts of the world.
The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo made the threat known, stating that some of the companies had already issued a notice of disconnection of service to their Nigerian counterparts. Although the Nigerian partners were not mentioned, AT&T, T-Mobile, Orange Telecom were mentioned as some of the foreign partners.
According to Adebayo, international calls are made possible as a result of international interconnect system which Nigerian telcos have a duty to pay some fees for in some cases 30 days and some maximum of 90 days. Nigerian telcos have been however unable to meet up with this obligation and as a result have been threatened with disconnection from the interconnect services of some of their foreign partners
As to the reason why Nigerian telcos have failed to meet their obligations, inability to access forex as at when needed was cited by some companies. Some of the telecommunications companies have thus accumulated debts in foreign currencies, which have proved difficult to settle. “There appears to be accumulation of debts on the part of Nigerian operators, not their fault though, but their inability to access forex,” explains a source to Guardian.
This is coming hot on the heels of the exit of telecommunications giant, Etisalat, from the country. This sequence of events is leading some to believe that there is a need for a round-table table discussion between telco companies, regulators and government.
“I think it is time we have a core telecoms summit where there will be the Presidency, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), NCC and other stakeholders, to actually sort out this matter. Just imagine what Etisalat is currently battling with. We don’t want such things again. The sector should be supported to move the economy forward,” suggests Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, President of the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMs).