The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has urged Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, minister of communications to intervene on ease of doing business in the telecommunications sector.
ALTON states that access to basic communications services have transformed personal and business productivity, enhanced governance and facilitated security services delivery in the country.
In a letter to the minister signed by Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of ALTON, the association said the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has a direct impact on the performance of Government at all levels.
“The ICT Sector accounts for approximately 10% of nominal GDP as against 2016 with a direct contribution of over N1.549trn to the economy. Our sector consistently accounted for over 30% of Nigerian Foreign Direct Investment since its deregulation in year 2001. It is pertinent to state that the ICT Sector has created over 20,000 direct and 1.5 million indirect jobs since its deregulation in 2001.
“Despite the above milestones, it is of great concern to stakeholders that the ICT Sector is still operating below its potentials, as it is faced with fundamental challenges militating against network enhancement and development as well as inadequate infrastructure to support broadband roll out.
“Specifically, the provision of first class telecoms service in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja has been hampered by the refusal of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to grant permits to our members to build infrastructure. Despite concerted engagement, FCDA has maintained that due to the need to maintain the Abuja Master Plan, it will not grant approval to our members to build new sites in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
ALTON noted that without adequate infrastructure, the provision of qualitative telecommunications services cannot be guaranteed. “We therefore invite you to use your good office to liaise with the FCDA to identify suitable locations for new sites build by our members to ensure the provision of qualitative telecoms service in FCT and environs.
“We require more base stations, more resilient infrastructure and other elements to support stable telecom operations. However, we are faced with a number of issues for which we require intervention of Government at the highest level:
The Amended Taxes & Levies Order of 2015
ALTON said they concerned that the Amended Taxes & Levies Order, 2015 engendered the institution of multiplicity of taxes across different tiers of Government. The Amended Order failed to fix the taxable rate resulting in the imposition of arbitrary levies and charges at the State Government levels.
“The industry is also burdened with enactment of laws at the State Government levels to legitimate spurious levies and charges on our members which negates the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
“Specifically, item 3 (b) of the Amended Schedule to the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act introduced new levies and taxes under items 12 – 25. Most of these taxes and levies were hitherto contested by our members on the grounds that they were not applicable to telecommunications operations justified by the previous Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act 1998.
“It is disturbing that the entire instrument has given the State Governments authorization to coerce and disrupt the operations of our members in order to compel the payment of sundry levies, charges and taxes. Rather than Amended Order addressing the issue of multiple taxation; it on the contrary increased the tax burden of our members and adversely impacted the ease of doing businesses in Nigeria”.
Implications of Multiple Taxation on Telecom Operators
The Association noted with dismay the its members have continue to record incidences of sabotage, outright vandalisation and arbitrary site closure in across the federation intended to coerce and exert pressure to compel the payment of multiple and discriminatory taxes and levies targeted at telecom facilities for the purpose of revenue generation.
Some examples of such taxes according to ALTON are:
- Ecology Tax for gaseous emission.
- Sewage, Sanitation and public convenience levy
iii. Sanitation and refuse effluent tax
- Business premises tax for base stations situated in farm lands
- Tenements rates charged per base station in some states is far higher than rates per square metre charged by the same State for residential and commercial buildings when the infrastructure occupies the same land?
- Fumigation Levies: This is to bring to the notice of His Excellency that some States demand for the payment of fumigation charges of Base Station in the bush.
These are few examples of the nature of taxes that are alien to our operations but aimed at telecom operators.
- Telecoms services as critical national security and economic infrastructure:
“Our industry supports many other economic sectors of the economy. We are also the first layer of critical infrastructure for socio economic development and security. It is pertinent to state that unless telecoms facilities have first level of protection by Government, it will be difficult to provide uninterrupted services to the citizenry”.
ALTON however requested for an Executive Order to be issued designating “Telecom Infrastructure as Critical National Security and Economic Infrastructure” as prescribed in the Cybercrime Act, 2015.
In view of the foregoing, ALTON urged the minister working with the Minister of Finance to review the Amended Taxes and Levies Order 2015, which is adjudged to be inimical to the normal operations of telecommunication operations.
NDPR to Safeguard Personal Data of Nigerians -DG NITDA
Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has disclosed that the motive behind the issuance of Nigerian Data Protection Regulations, (NDPR) by the Agency was to safeguard the right of natural persons to data privacy, fostering safe conduct for transactions involving the exchange of personal data, enablement of Nigerian businesses to be globally compliant and competitive and to create jobs for Nigerians.
Mallam Abdullahi revealed this Friday while delivering the keynote address at the 6th annual conference of Institute Internal Auditors of Nigeria, (IIAN) with the theme:, “Agility and Resilience” which was held on zoom conference platform.
The Conference aimed at preparing participants across Internal Audits, Internal Controls, risk management, revenue and Government assurance and other business professionals to learn how to leverage on new technologies and procedures towards actualisation of the organisation’s goals and objectives.
The NITDA DG who was represented Director e-Government Development and Regulations, Dr Vincent Olatunji stated that since inception of the Agency in 2001, it has been playing a catalytic roles to spur the infusion of technology into nation’s work processes reiterating that the Agency plays “critical roles in capacity development, provision of working tools for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“NITDA also has an existing arrangement with the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to aid the office in the discharge of its activities.”
Mallam Abdullahi said, “The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) was issued on 25th January, 2020 by my predecessor, DrIsa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
“As part of his think-tank then, our thinking was that Nigeria needed to quickly provide a regulatory framework for the processing of personal data.
“This was even more pertinent in consideration of the global implications of non-performance.
“Businesses where losing bids because investors felt there was no data privacy regime in Nigeria.
“The Agency’s implementation of the NDPR has been innovative and impact oriented. For the first time in data protection implementation, auditors became recognised as Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCO)”.
He maintained that NITDA has 72 licensed DPCOs among which are members of this “august body,” adding that “this posture is not as a result of lack of professionals in the IT industry, rather, we have made conscious efforts to carry every relevant stakeholder along in our developmental regulatory strategy.
“ I hope this noble institute would repay NITDA’s generosity by imbibing ethical and professional principles on your members for better implementation of the Regulation.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, New Capital Cooperatives Society Mr. Benedict Anyalenka while commending the organisers of the conference affirmed that data privacy and protection should be a requisite skill needed for development of the Information Technology Sector as it would create platform for protection of information against unauthorized usage.
Anyalenka, however, called for proper awareness on the importance of data privacy among organisations and stakeholders across the country to safeguard citizens’ data.
FG Reveals Plans to Deploy Technology in the Health Sector
As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government of Nigeria has announced plans to deploy information and communications technology (ICT) in the country’s health sector.
This is part of the plans to achieve transparency and accountability in health care delivery across the country.
Dr. Ngozi R. C. Azodoh, director, Special Projects, Federal Ministry of Health, who represented Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire, Honourable Minister of Health, revealed this while speaking at MTN Nigeria’s Revv Programme masterclass on Thursday, September 17, 2020 .
The virtual session themed ‘Bridging the healthcare divide through technology and partnerships’ had in attendance health sector experts including Chief Executive Officer, Hygeia HMO Limited, Obinnia Abajue; Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder, Afya Care, Kola Oni; Managing Director, Ingress Health Partners, Dr. Orode Doherty and Chief Executive Officer, Tremendoc Limited, Ugochukwu Chikezie. The session was moderated by the General Manager, Business Development, MTN Nigeria, Omotayo Ojulatayo.
According to Azodoh, the federal government has put structures in place to utilise ICT as part of efforts to standardise the healthcare system.
“The government is working hand in hand with state governments across the country to maintain transparency and accountability, adding that ICT and other forms of electronic platforms are currently being improved and expanded following the federal government’s COVID intervention”.
She also shared that the ministry is willing to support small businesses in the sector imploring the participating SMEs to seize the opportunities provided by The Revv Programme.
“I want to ask everyone who is listening to write to the MTN Revv team and say this is one thing I want the Federal Ministry of Health to do to help my business then we can engage on how to proceed,” she enthused.
In her parting remarks, she also commended MTN Nigeria for providing a platform for SMEs to expand their capacity. “I must commend MTN for this excellent initiative. It has been very productive for me and an opportunity to transfer knowledge.”
The Revv Programme is an initiative from MTN Nigeria to help small businesses rethink and retool their operations in order to withstand the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic using a four-pronged approach that includes masterclasses, access to market, productivity tools support and advisory initiatives.
Peace House Charity Foundation Seeks for DCTC Intervention
Mallam Kashifu InuwaAbdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), asserted that if we do not empower our people, they become a problem to the society in future.
He made this know on Friday while receiving a delegation from Peace House Charity Foundation,Yola who were at the Agency’s Corporate Headquarter, Abuja to seek for interventions in the areas of ICT.
The representative of the Director General, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, Director eGovernment Development and Regulation stated that one of the mandate of the Agency is the deployment of ICT infrastructure as such the Foundation’s visit at this time is very apt as the Agency is relentlessly working on the implementation of the Digital Economy strategy.
MallamAbdullahi affirmed that Agency at the moment is looking for organisations to partner with to sustain Digital Capacity Training Centres deployed across the country.
He commended the effort of the organisation in assisting orphans with not only providing basic education but also the provision of skills, mentorship and moral upbringing.
Speaking earlier, Mr Mohammad Bello, a Director with the Foundation said that the organisation was at the Agency to seek for ICT intervention and to commend NITDA’s effort in promoting ICT knowledge across the nation.
He stated that the organisation supports education for the orphans and the less privileged, promote health care delivery especially among women and children, provide sensitisation workshop for parents (mothers) on parenting and matrimonial home, promote unity and encourage self-reliance among the populace.
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