Despite huge success recorded in the telecoms sector in the past 12 years, its future growth is being threatened by human challenges that can be avoided, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.
NCC gave the hint at the 54th edition of the Consumer Outreach Programme organised by the commission in Ikorodu, Lagos recently.
Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management at NCC, Mr. Okechukwu Itanyi, who was represented by Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Dr. Ibrahim Sanni, said: "As desirable as telecommunications is in the society, the sector is being hampered by many challenges which regrettably majority of them are human challenges."
Itanyi listed some of the challenges facing the telecoms industry in the country to include: Man-made national disaster, criminal vandalism of infrastructure, theft and digging up of cables for sale in the black market or for other purposes, destruction of telecoms facilities due to road construction, community interference and over sight functions from other governmental agencies.
He noted that every year, NCC received over 1,000 cases of vandalism across the country just as over 500 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) were reported burnt down by the terrorist group, suspected to be Boko Haram in Yobe, Borno, Adamawa and Kaduna States.
He stressed that BTS sites remained important to telecoms activities, just as the heart is to the body.
He insisted that the development of telecommunications infrastructure was an important phase in the life cycle of the telecoms industry. "It is the blood that sustains the industry. This is because without telecoms infrastructure, there will be no telecoms service," Itanyi added.
Cautioning those who were involved in creating havoc to telecoms facilities across the country, Itanyi said the NCC had always put subscribers first in everything it does, and had always ensured that telecoms subscribers remained the major beneficiary to all the activities of the commission especially in terms getting the best of service quality, value for money spent, timely and fair redress of complaints and protection of unwholesome practices from some service providers.
He said the essence of the Telecoms Consumer Outreach Programme was to address issues affecting operators as well as the subscribers and called on Nigerians to guard against destruction of telecoms facilities in their localities.
The theme for this month's Outreach Programme: 'Protection of Telecoms Infrastructure,' according to Itanyi, became very imperative because "telecoms infrastructure has a direct and indirect impact on the spread of telecoms services to all nooks and crannies of the country as well as on service quality being experienced by the consumers."
According to Itanyi, "the commission has created conducive environment that attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the industry, which has made telecoms infrastructure widely available across the country. Nigeria is widely covered by optic fibre cable, copper cables, masts and towers, bandwidth and internet facilities among others, and they are expected to bring about phenomenal growth in the telecoms industry and other sectors of the economy. This has been the focus and priority of the commission for quite some time".
He appealed to the government to expedite action towards making telecoms infrastructure a national critical asset that should be accorded priority attention in terms of protection.