One of Nigerian incumbent Nitel’s key sources of revenue, its international fibre monopoly on SAT3, is in danger of being shut down at the end of April because of non-payment of accumulated debts to European telco, Cable and Wireless. According to sources quoted in This Day the company owes about N500 million (about $4 million) for Internet Protocol (IP) services on the SAT -3 optic cable.

NITEL paid more than N6 billion ( about $50 million) to be  a consortium member of. SAT -3 cable. NITEL records show that the subscriber base of Nitel has dropped from about 450,000 before the deregulation of the sector in 2001 to about 120,000.

NITEL spokesman, Bala Abdulkadir who confirmed that the company was owing Cable and Wireless for IP services, however said it was paying the debt gradually, based on an agreed arrangement.

Meanwhile, NITEL's Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Ms Funke Opeke, has sent in her resignation letter to Transnational Corporation Plc (Transcorp), owners of NITEL. Opeke's resignation closely follows the withdrawal of technical services to NITEL by British Telecom (BT) after one of its consultants, John Weir, was sacked by Transcorp.

Sources at the NITEL headquarters in Abuja said about 500 members were sacked in five months by the BT management consultants as they continue efforts to streamline the company's various departments. Abdulkadir, however, explained that the sacking of some members of staff was to align the staff strength with the financial reality of the company and its new operations.

Transcorp spokesman Adebayo Ojo who shed light on efforts to reposition the firm, said the consultants, BT, had diagnosed some of NITEL's problems and was working toward improving its operations. Transcorp took over NITEL in November 2006.

This Day