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Telecoms: Watchdog pays FG N51.3b amid $70b earnings

Telecoms: Watchdog pays FG N51.3b amid $70b earnings

Nigeria’s telecoms regulator says it has paid N51.3 billion in statutory revenue to the goverment coffers as industry earnings peaked at over $70 billion.

 Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC/CEO), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says the N51.3 billion remitted to the Federal Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) in the first quarter of 2019, “is in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 (FRA 2007).”

Danbatta explains that, the remittance “represents ‘Payment on Account’ in respect of operating surplus of N44 billion and N7.3 billion spectrum assignment fee collected, both of which are due to the Federal Government as at April 30, 2019.”

Danbatta explains the statutory backing for the remittance derives from provisions of the FRA 2007 stipulating that “such payments are to be made every year after preparation of Audited Accounts.”

Professor Umaru Garba Danbatta speaking to Media Executives at the breakfast meeting in Lagos
Professor Umaru Garba Danbatta speaking to Media Executives at a breakfast meeting in Lagos

Specifically, Section 22, Sub-section 1 of the Act states that, “Notwithstanding the provisions of any written law governing the Corporation, each Corporation shall establish a general reserve fund and shall allocate thereto at the end of each financial year, one fifth of its operating surplus for the year”, he adds.

Also, Section 22, Sub-section 2 of the Act states further that, “The balance of the operating surplus shall be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Government not later than one month following the statutory deadline for publishing each Corporation’s Account.”

Aside from remitting the operating surplus, Section 17, Sub-section 3 of the Nigerian Communication Act (NCA, 2003) also stipulates that spectrum assignment fees generated shall be remitted 100 per cent to the Federal Government, he says.

The Section states that, “the Commission shall pay all monies accruing from the sales of Spectrum under Part 1 of Chapter VIII into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).”

According to the telecoms regulatory agency’s chief, the sector has continued to be a key growth driver and revenue generation engine for the Nigerian economy.

“From 2001 till date, telecoms investment has increased tremendously from $500 million to over $70 billion, just as the Commission intensifies measures aimed to further facilitate investment growth in telecoms infrastructure to drive the economy, especially through the licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos)”, according to the NCC EVC. 

Technology Times photo shows phone brands seen on display at Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos
Technology Times photo shows phone brands seen on display at Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos

“We are also working with necessary stakeholders across all levels of government to address identified impediments to investment drive in the sector” Danbatta says while backing his views with latest data on the industry to underscore the impressive growth already recorded in the industry, and also underscores that “in the 21st century, access to pervasive broadband is a game changer for any economy.”

According to NCC, latest data released by sister agency, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the telecoms industry contributed 10.11% to Nigeria’s GDP in the first quarter of 2019.

This represents a 0.92% increase from the first quarter of the last year. This year’s first quarter contribution is also 0.26% more than the figure (9.85% ) recorded in the last quarter of 2018, the telecoms watchdog says.

Danbatta adds that NCC “has since placed greater emphasis on broadband development as the next frontier for economic growth by driving efficiency and innovations in Nigeria. Consequently, through painstaking implementation of our 8-Point Agenda with the need to facilitate broadband development topping the agenda, we have been able to increase broadband penetration to 33.13% as at the end of May, 2019.”

The NCC chief says that as at May this year, there were over 173.6 million active mobile lines across mobile networks, corresponding to a teledensity of 90.98%. Internet subscriptions during the month stood at 122.6 million up from 119 million in April.

Danbatta says that while telecoms has provided and continues to provide direct and indirect jobs for millions of Nigerians, NCC, “through effective regulatory approach, is embarking on more initiatives to boost access to telecoms services in rural, unserved and underserved areas across the country by ensuring service availability, accessibility and affordability for more Nigerians.”

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