By Jide Ajia
A cross section of business, finance and investment pundits have stressed that telecom firms in Nigeria could successfully be listed on Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and thus contribute significantly to socio-economic development of the country, barring challenges confronting operators in the sector.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya, said that an enabling business environment, policies that could ease business and market forces in line with global best practices, were key factors that could encourage telecom to get on Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Ogunsanya, who made the submission while delivering presentation at 2017 Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) annual national workshop held in Abuja on Tuesday, reiterated that the sector currently accounts for 10 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and therefore makes it a critical national infrastructure.
He said that connectivity among Nigerians has been enhanced with 145,350,702 active lines as at May 2017, while investments in the sector as at Q1 2017 stood at $68billion with FDI contribution amounting to $35billion, with over 10,000 direct jobs and 1.3million indirect jobs have been created.
The Airtel boss stressed that telecoms were committed to providing qualitative world class telecommunications services and in turn contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.
However, operators were still facing challenges which stifle growth and inhibit services delivery; he therefore, urged government to address lingering industry issues such as multiple taxation, prohibitive right-of-way fees, broadband spectrum pricing/ availability among others.
According to him, the presentations, which was designed as creating an enabling environment for public listing of the economy’s commanding heights, the case for telecoms sector, focuse more on liberalisation of the telecoms sector in 2001.
Speaking further, the Airtel CEO noted that high interest rates were a major draw-back on use of debt financing, the fluctuation of foreign exchange rate has adversely impacted use of debt financing, while adverse market conditions occasioned by recession have adversely impacted viability of public equity alternatives.
The CIS annual workshop themed transition from recession to global economic power: a working template for Nigeria, was a convergence of stakeholders in the nation’s financial services sector.
Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Oscar Onyema; Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo; Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, were among top government functionaries, captains of industry and dignitaries that attended the event.
The workshop was organised in conjunction with the Nigerian Capital Market Institute, a training affiliate of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the apex regulator of the Nigerian capital market.