The Nigerian government says it is probing the competition landscape in the co-location and infrastructure sharing (CIS) segment of the Nigerian telecoms sector.
Seventy-eight firms have been licensed in the CIS market segment, and Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) has been engaged to assess the dynamics shaping competitiveness and state of play in that key segment of the local telecoms market, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, Public Affairs Director at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says.
“The study,” Adinde adds, “is to enable the Commission to have insightful and evidenced-based facts to glean the dynamics at play and ensure the continuous growth of the CIS segment of the telecom market. The NCC takes this issue as priority in view of the critical role played by the co-location and infrastructure sharing segment of the telecom ecosystem in ensuring robust services.”
NCC: Telecoms Infrastructure Sharing and Co-location Market Segment Now Beyond Embryonic Stage
PwC, one of the world’s reputable consulting firms, is to conduct the study on behalf of NCC, in the exercise of the agency’s regulatory functions as provided in the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003, while the exercise is to be concluded between April and July 2022.
Yetunde Akinloye, NCC Policy, Competition and Economy Analysis (PCEA) Director, announced this at the NCC’s stakeholders’ forum recently organised in Lagos on the commencement of the study.
Akinloye, who represented Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, at the event says the forum was to intimate operators in the CIS segment of the telecoms market on the study and to secure their buy-in and cooperation with the consultants undertaking the study.
In line with its mandate of creating an enabling environment for competition among operators in the industry as well as ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services, Akinloye says that the NCC periodically conducts studies to assess the level of competition in the industry.
“Having successfully conducted competition assessment studies in 2005, 2010 and 2013,”, she says that “the Commission had issued determinations based on the findings of the studies while the outcome of such studies has also enabled the Commission to come up with various regulatory interventions and initiatives to continuously provide a level-playing field for the interplay of market forces. These procedures are emplaced by the Commission to ensure fair, efficient and sustainable competition in the Nigerian telecom industry”
Despite the measurable progress made by NCC, the telecoms regulator says that since the successful completion of the 2013 study, “there had been significant development and activities in some market segments of the industry that had necessitated the conduct of another competition study.”
For instance, at the time the 2013 study was conducted, Akinloye adds, the CIS market segment was still at an embryonic stage and, as such, much emphasis was not placed on it.
However, Akinloye says that “the CIS segment has recorded significant growth and transformation over the years having about 80 licensees, operating in the segment while its performance and activities continue to impact significantly on other segments of the Nigerian industry.”
The NCC PCEA Director, who notes that activities in the CIS market have also attained the targets set out in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) says that “the overarching objective of the study is to provide current insights into the level of competition in the CIS market segment and articulate strategies to enhance opportunities in the market, as well as ensure the deepening of competition which will ultimately support the provision of innovative services for the benefits of both market players and the consumers at large.”
According to Akinloye, the forum also provides opportunities for stakeholders to gain an understanding into the objective, scope and methodology of the study, and ensure that questionnaire or Request for Information (RFI) developed by the consultants to access the level of competition in the market are well-understood.
She rallied the stakeholders to see the forum as an opportunity “to seek and receive clarification based on presentation delivered by the consultant and to make comments on issues relating to the study”, while asking participants to “commit to the objectives of the study, by providing complete, timely feedback to questionnaires.”
While also speaking at the event, Bako Wakil, NCC Technical Standards and Network Integrity Director joined Akinloye in seeking the full cooperation of licensees in the CIS segment of the telecoms market whenever they are approached by the consultants for relevant information either through the instrumentality of the RFI or through one-on-one sessions with consultants in the course of the implementation of the study.
According to Wakil, the study is in the interest of the CIS licensees, other players and the consumers. It will also provide the Commission with useful and evidenced-based insights necessary to ensure healthy competition and a level-playing ground in the CIS segment and ensure sustainability in the growth of the telecommunication industry.
“Also”, Wakil tells thee forum, “rest assured of the confidentiality of any information provided to the Commission in the course of this study, no matter how sensitive.”
Earlier in her presentation to telecom stakeholders at the event, Mary Iwelumo, Partner at PwC, says urged industry players to cooperate with the firm in providing accurate, timely and adequate responses to the RFI or the questionnaire that would be administered.
This, Iwelumo says, will ensure that appropriate information are to obtained to address the challenges in the sector.
The PWC Partner says that the study is to analyse the structure and operations of the co-location and infrastructure sharing segment of the telecoms market, draw out insights and advise the Commission on necessary regulatory interventions required.
Iwelumo further listed three major tasks of PwC in the execution of the study to include: gathering data, reviewing and analysing information that would be sourced from the Commission, the operators, other jurisdictions for benchmarking; engaging identified stakeholders to get feedback and suggestions after the completion of market assessment; and finally to make recommendations and prepare the study report.
“Operators are very critical to the success of the study. Therefore, they would be involved in this critical assignment, as important sources of information, as providers of technical inputs, and finally, help to validate the findings of the study,” Iwelumo says.