Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday charged the MTN Group to make its services affordable and in high quality to its Nigerian subscribers.
The President's charge came the same day Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo urged corporate organisations operating in Nigeria, including the MTN, to ensure there is accountability in the provision of services to customers and to pay greater attention to the needs of the people.
Speaking yesterday at the State House, Abuja when he received in audience members of the board of MTN Group led by its President and Chief Executive Officer, Ralph Mupita, President Buhari said: "Nigeria is your most lucrative market in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as the source of a third of the income of the entire MTN Group. As such, we urge you to offer top-of-the-range and affordable service to Nigerians.
"As we seek to make broadband widely available and affordable, we urge MTN to continue to support our efforts by expanding high quality connectivity to Nigerians in unserved and underserved areas."
The President also called on the group to support the implementation of the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian telecommunications sector.
"I recently unveiled and launched the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian telecommunications sector. I call on MTN to support the implementation of this policy and train and engage more Nigerians in your company.
"In particular, we would like you to continue to support our efforts by improving the quality of service and enabling a downward price review of the cost of data and other services, in view of your large market in Nigeria. We also urge you to step up your Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and support Research and Development that will enhance your services in Nigeria."
He assured his visitors that his administration was doing everything possible to make Nigeria investor-friendly by addressing identified challenges:
"We are implementing a number of policies and programmes to ensure that institutions like MTN have a conducive environment for doing business in Nigeria. Our massive jump in the Global Ease of Doing Business Ranking is proof that our efforts are yielding positive results.
"We have identified and addressed the key challenges that affected the growth of the digital economy sector. One of such challenges was the high Right of Way costs and another was the vandalism of critical national infrastructure.
"I am happy to note that the Right of Way charges have now been pegged at a maximum of N145/linear metre and I have given directives for the protection of critical national infrastructure and this has addressed the issue of vandalism of such infrastructure. Service providers should always appreciate the effort of government and not undermine it."
President Buhari expressed his delight that the Information and communications technology sector was doing very well despite the global economic downturn.
He said: "The information and communications technology sector was the fastest growing sector in both the fourth quarter of 2020 and the entire year 2020, based on the report by the National Bureau of Statistics. The sector's 14.70% double digit growth rate played a principal role in supporting our country to exit the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The growth rate of the sector exceeded four times the next fastest growing sector of Q4 2020, which had a growth rate of 3.42%. This is truly commendable."
Meanwhile, Osinbajo, delivered his message on Thursday when he received members of the board of telecoms giant, MTN, led by the company's Group President and CEO, Mr Ralph Mupita, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa.
He stated that it was critical for corporate organisations to show commitment to improving services and to build confidence in the people.
While noting that there have been hiccups in the relationship, the VP commended MTN for its contribution to the country, adding that the company is clearly an important part of Nigeria's story.
According to him, "Corporate organisations should be more accountable in their services, in the ownership structure, and also in paying attention to the needs of the people. Companies that ensure this will experience progress, as this is the right direction to go. Going forward, most corporates will find that attaching greater importance to the people is the way to go.
"For telecommunication firms like MTN, financial inclusion is crucial, so is broadband connection in deepening access and will help to connect hard-to-reach places, and to retail social welfare and services. The company's investment was crucial when Nigeria needed to show that not only is there a large population in the country, but that it is a large market. The market was severely underestimated for a long time. So, MTN is an important part of our story, we regard MTN as an important partner."
Speaking earlier, Mupita said that they want to deepen structure of ownership in Nigeria.
While disclosing that the company wants to have the largest retail-based shareholding in Nigeria, Mupita said they plan to sell another 14 per cent to Nigerian individuals and institutions.
He added that MTN as a corporate citizen is responsible in all the countries where it is represented.