Home Interview Don’t throw baby out with bathwater, ex-CEO of MTN Nigeria tells NCC over clampdown threat on telcos

Don’t throw baby out with bathwater, ex-CEO of MTN Nigeria tells NCC over clampdown threat on telcos

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Lagos. January 24, 2014: The Nigerian government should be careful of creating disincentive to investments in the telecoms sector, Adrian Wood, a former CEO of MTN Nigeria has observed in the wake of clampdown threats by the industry regulator on operators facing service quality challenges.[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”-Adrian Wood, ex-CEO of MTN Nigeria”]”When the NCC is developing its policies, it has to be careful not to punish success and not to punish investment”, Wood told Technology Times in an exclusive interview in Lagos, underscoring that the telecoms sector’s over $25billion spend have deepened investments and transformed every facet of the economy.[/blockquote]

Wood says that vibes from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to impose stiffer sanction on operators within the year may send negative signals to the investors hoping to explore emerging broadband stakes following the success of mobile voice driven by incumbent operators in Nigeria.

Woods, who was CEO at MTN Nigeria between 2001 and 2005, and now CEO of Brymedia, is a veritable witness to the evolution of the mobile telephony revolution in the country and reckons that the success story can also be replicated with the proposed Presidential Broadband plan hoped to deepen diffusion of high speed Internet access across the country.

“When the NCC is developing its policies, it has to be careful not to punish success and not to punish investment”, Wood told Technology Times in an exclusive interview in Lagos, underscoring that the telecoms sector’s over $25billion spend have deepened investments and transformed every facet of the economy.

Wood reckons that NCC can employ alternative options like frequency spectrum caps, which have been successfully used in other regulatory jurisdictions, to promote healthy competition in the Nigerian telecoms market.

According to him, “MTN has paid sizable dividends in the last three years. Don’t also forget that they have invested $10billion. I think it’s already in the public domain that investment in the industry is about $25billion up till now and MTN probably has invested half of that. So, if you take stiff measures against the most successful of the operator including Globacom, Airtel, all that will do is to discourage investors from the broadband generation and that will be bad.”

He believes that the evolution of the successful mobile revolution in Nigeria has redirected positive international attention and investments to the country and also created major international telecoms brands like Globacom, the Second National Operator (SNO), owned by businessman, Mike Adenuga Jr.

“I doff my hat to Otunba Mike Adenuga because he really had no telecoms experience. He had his investment in bank, Conoil and he put that on the line to start Globacom. Why should he be punished for that? He should be applauded; that’s a tremendous risk he took”, Wood adds.

According to him, “he (Adenuga) had battles in Abuja without getting his licence issue settled but he was consistent and committed. He has employed tremendous number of people. Today he has his company in Ghana, Benin on the basis of his success in Nigeria. I think the regulatory regime has to be very careful not to punish that kind of commitment and risk taking.”

He advises the regulator to look as frequency spectrum caps as sustainable regulatory mechanisms to create level playing field among operators in the country adding that, “there has to be a way of encouraging competition.”[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”-Adrian Wood, ex-CEO of MTN Nigeria”]”I doff my hat to Otunba Mike Adenuga because he really had no telecoms experience. He had his investment in bank, Conoil and he put that on the line to start Globacom. Why should he be punished for that? He should be applauded; that’s a tremendous risk he took”, Wood adds. [/blockquote]

According to the former CEO of MTN Nigeria, “MTN has more spectrum than the competition. We are talking about 20MHz of GSM and 10MHz of 3G for the operator. That means three of the mobile operators have 30MHz and MTN has 50MHz.”

According to him, “one of the regulatory actions that some countries have taken is to put a cap of the number of spectrums any operator can hold. In the UK it is 60MHz and MTN is pretty getting close to that if. If that was the case in Nigeria, MTN could not bid for 30MHz of the 2.3GHz because it will blow through that 60MHz scale. So it is important not to punish success and punish risk taking in the heavy investment.”

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Kolade Akinola Technology Journalist at Technology Times Mobile: + 234 (0) 807 401 6027

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