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Danbatta expresses worry over N70billion+ interconnect debts



Interconnect debts
Prof. Umar Danbatta

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Garba Danbatta, has expressed displeasure over the huge interconnect debts being owed by various Mobile Network operators (MNOs).

The EVC while urging telecom operators in the country to settle their debts, noted that this should be resolved as part of measures to cushion the challenges faced by players in the industry.

Danbatta made the called at the maiden edition of the National Dialogue on Telecoms and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sectors in Nigeria organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) on Thursday in Abuja.

The EVC said the “interconnectivity indebtedness valued at over N70 billion is a big challenge to infrastructure expansion and inimical to healthy competition” which are needed for facilitating digital economy in Nigeria.

Speaking as lead presenter on the theme: “National Funding and Investment Strategy for Broadband Infrastructure and Digital Economy”, Danbatta gave the theme a sharper by focusing on what the Commission had done in the last five years, especially in stimulating the development of resilient ICT infrastructure and the benefits these regulatory efforts have brought to the economy.

The NCC had in 2019 granted disconnection approval to mobile network operator (MNO) – Airtel Networks Limited (Airtel) to disconnect owing colleague – GloMobile –  over its interconnect debt and failure of the affected operator to pay. also reported that MTN Communications (Nigeria) Plc, applied to the NCC before embarking on a partial disconnection of calls from Globacom as reported in 2019.

Recall that NCC granted similar approval to Airtel and MTN in December 2018, to disconnect from Breeze Micro Limited; Exchange Telecommunications Limited, Solid Interconnectivity Services Limited, Niconnx Communications Limited and other exchange points under similar circumstance.

Meanwhile, the EVC told participants at the event that access gaps in the country have been reduced from 217 in 2015 to 114.

“We have licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos); we have introduced innovative policies such as spectrum trading and spectrum farming; broadband penetration has increased from 6 percent to 43.3 per cent in the last five years. Also, from 8 per cent in 2015, the telecoms sector contributed over 14 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as in the second quarter of 2020, valued at N2.3 trillion,” Danbatta said.