Nigeria currently has a plethora of challenges ranging from dwindling economy, infrastructural deficit, insecurity problems, inadequate funding for both healthcare and education, and others.
Some of these socio-economic issues require huge funds to tackle and only if those funds are appropriately managed.
But how would the Federal Government address some of its pressing problems should it have N3.4 trillion today in its possession?
The leading telecom operator in the country, MTN has paid N3.4 trillion so far as taxes and levies into the coffers of the Nigerian government.
The company launched operations in 2001 after obtaining a license from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecom industry regulator.
MTN Nigeria currently has over 50 percent market share. It is also Nigeria’s second-largest listed company with a market capitalization of N4.688 trillion.
Oh, let’s look at it this way: How are the taxes and levies paid by MTN Nigeria felt in the economy?
Now, let’s assume that the Nigerian government still has that N3.4 trillion in its possession. What are some of the things the money should be spent on?
N3.4 trillion will provide 1.13 million housing units
Nigeria’s housing deficit as of December 2018 is estimated at a staggering 20 million units and each housing unit costs at least N3 million, according to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
The N3.4 trillion taxes remitted by MTN will not provide 20 million units. It can only reduce it by 1.13 million housing units. So, there are still more grounds to be covered here.
The Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning allotted N7.6 billion to the Ministry of Works and Housing in the 2021 budget.
Then, in September 2020, the CBN approved the sum of N200 billion as a mortgage finance facility to the Family Homes Fund Limited (FHFL), targeting low-income earners.
The 2022 Housing Budget was anchored on include: Federal Government’s National Housing Programme and the construction and completion of Federal Secretariats in six States of Anambra, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Osun, and Zamfara States.
N8 billion for 18,000 kilometres of fibre optics cable across Nigeria.
To reach the Nation Broadband Plan (NBP) target set by 2025, Nigeria needs more investments in infrastructure. As part of the move to achieving that goal, the Federal Government has made its intent known to lay 18,000 kilometers of fibre optic cables.
So, there are two parts to this – the cost of the fibre optics cable and the fee for Right of Way (RoW). In 2020, Nigeria’s 36 governors agreed that the standardized RoW fee will cost ₦145 on one per linear metre.
Therefore, for 1 linear kilometre of fibre optics, it will cost N145,000. But the issue is that some states charge more than N145 per linear metre.
Secondly, the fibre cable itself costs (estimate) about N100 per metre and about N200 to excavate per metre. This brings it to a combined fee of N300. Now, buying and laying fibre that covers every 1 metre, including RoW will cost N445. Therefore, 1 kilometer of fibre optic cables will cost N445,000. With the present economic situation the number, the costs are increasing.
So, the taxes and levies paid by MTN in the last 20 years of operations in Nigeria could have helped to lay 18,000 kilometers at the rate of N445,000 per kilometre which amounts to N8 billion. There will still be enough money to offset the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) currently on strike over the failure of the Federal Government to pay N1.1 trillion revitalization and earned allowances.
N1.2 trillion to fund 30,000 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS)
According to the telecom industry regulator, the country needs at least an additional 30,000 base stations to ensure 4G covers all cities.
TechEconomy checks show that almost all the telecom operators in Nigeria usually outsource their Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) to Independent Tower companies eg IHS. And the cost of setting up a base station usually costs about N40 million.
IHS Towers is one of the largest telecommunications infrastructure providers in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East by tower count and the fourth largest independent multinational tower company globally.
Imagine if the Federal Government of Nigeria decides to fund the construction of these base stations and outsource them to the telcos at reduced rate as incentives for the sector; well, with N1.2 trillion from MTN taxes, 30,000 base stations can be achieved.
N80 billion for NIN enrollment of about 115 million unregistered Nigerians
It is noteworthy that Sections 27 and 29 of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Act 2007 provides for the mandatory use of the National Identification Number (NIN) for accessing several government services.
As of 2019, Aliyu Aziz, Director-General, NIMC said the country needed N132 billion to enroll 200 million Nigerians for the National Identification Number (NIN) scheme.
In the same period, 36 million persons were already enrolled. While today, that number has reached 85 million Nigerians. So, Nigeria would need about N80 billion will be needed to fund the remaining 115 million Nigerians that are yet to register.