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NCC EVC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta

Telecoms NSE Listing: Why Reports, Experts Applaud Danbatta’s Foresight

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Available reports and industry analysts have applauded the apex regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), under the leadership of Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, for its foresightedness in ensuring that telecom companies are listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and are encouraging the Commission to make listing on NSE a precondition for issuing operating license to players in the telecoms industry.

Their commendations of NCC’s proactive actions stem from the current reality. Despite the ongoing crisis in the local and global markets triggered by coronavirus pandemic and unprecedented plunge in oil prices, the telecoms industry has been tipped to balance the economy, post-COVID.

But the telecoms presence in the domestic capital market, according to Vanguard, was not on its volition but as part of obligation mandated on it by the Commission, “as atonement for SIM card registration infractions. In October 2015, NCC imposed a fine of N1.04tn on MTN for irregular registration of 5.2 million subscribers. However, after prolonged negotiation with both the regulatory agency and the Federal Government, the company had the fine reduced to N330bn. Public listing was one of the conditions arrived at with the telecommunications company before the Federal Government agreed to reduce the penalty to N330bn.”

Telecom experts have described NCC’s role in MTN’s listing as unprecedented and creative; exploiting the then controversial situation to create investment opportunities for local and foreign investing communities. They argue that seeing how stocks of listed telecoms companies are creating values for capital gains and wealth creation in the market, they are encouraging the Commission to make listing on NSE a precondition for issuing operating license to players in the telecoms industry.

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A telecom engineer, Basil Nwanokwuru is quoted as saying that “hearing that the telecommunications companies listed in the Nigerian stock exchange are touted to have the capacity of providing stability to the entire economy after COVID-19 is cheery news. It means that the foresight Prof Danbatta exhibited in exploiting the moment of MTN’s infraction to ask them to list is yielding dividends. Now, we need to take it a step further, by making it a precondition for issuing a new telecom license in this country” he added.

Stating about the proactive reactions of some tech firms in listing on the stock exchange, Nairametrics Financial Advocates, a leading financial resource company, with special focus on financial literacy, investor advocacy and business intelligence is quoted as saying that “We note that Nigeria’s key telecommunications companies have invested heavily in internet infrastructure in a bid to improve 4GLTE coverage across the country. Furthermore, increased competition among the providers has forced bundle prices lower, making internet usage very attractive to the average Nigerian.

In addition, increasing smartphone penetration, increasing digitisation of the Nigerian economy and a fledgling social media culture are among many factors driving internet penetration within the country”.

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