TELECOMS

MTN Predicts Challenging But Promising Year for Telecoms in Nigeria

The Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Ahmad Farroukh has predicted a challenging, yet very promising year for operators and users of telecommunications services in Nigeria

Farroukh made the forecast on the second day of the Economist magazine-organised CEO Agenda Nigeria, held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island , Lagos , recently. Farroukh was one of the three panellists, including the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Ernest Ndukwe, who discussed the topic, "Benefitting from Innovation: Increasing Connectivity", at the conference co-sponsored by MTN.

"We are looking forward to exciting challenges; in spite of the challenges, the year holds promising prospects, mainly on account of a number of interesting developments that will be taking place in the telecommunications sector in the course of the year," Farroukh told a gathering of top officials of companies drawn from within and outside the country.

The MTN CEO said access to funds became more difficult in the country in the preceding year in the wake of the reform in the banking sector, adding that the trend was expected to continue in the New Year, putting pressure on operators and their partners. Farroukh said in spite of this, operators would need to take service further to more Nigerians, build more cell sites and maintain satisfactory quality of service.

"We need to change the way we do business, the way we relate with our partners, even the way we build our sites. We need to deliver service more cost-effectively in 2010," he said.

Farroukh said that another exciting challenge of the New Year is the SIM registration exercise that is billed to commence in March. According to him, while this may slow down service uptake, the exercise would hold the prospect of ultimately empowering operators to serve their customers better.

"With SIM registration, operators will be able to know their customers better. We will know with more exactitude the demographic distribution of our customers. That will help us to plan better and serve them better," he said, adding that it will aid the implementation of the much expected mobile money, for instance.

The MTN CEO said at least two major submarine fibre optic cables would land in Nigeria in the course of the year, ushering in unprecedented number of opportunities in the sector.

"The cables will bring big opportunities for operators and subscribers. It will be possible to provide quality, reliable data services, without the present bandwidth restrictions," he said, concluding, "so, in essence, we will still witness growth in 2010".

Daily Independent

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