Nigerian regulator says taxes and vandalism threatening telecoms investment

The Nigerian regulator says that high taxation imposed om telecoms operators is threatening their operations – and complained that some regions of the country threaten to shut down base stations as a way of imposing more tax.

Umar Danbatta, vice chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) since August 2015, complained of multiple taxation from states and local governments, and said operators also suffered vandalism and pilfering of telecoms equipment.

“There have been recurring cases of multiple taxation which threaten the operators and by extension telecommunications services,” said Danbatta, according to Nigerian newspaper Vanguard. “There have also been issues of right of way approvals to telecoms companies. Various tiers of government including local council and state government agencies have created enormous challenges to the sector.”

Some agencies have threatened to shut down base stations “over alleged refusal of the telecoms companies to comply with a tax regime, which the operators see as grossly excessive and at times inappropriate”, he added. “The operators are in a dilemma. ‎And because of this, expansion of the networks is heavily stifled.”

Danbatta was speaking during a visit to the governor of the Nigerian state of Ogun, in the south-west of the country. The governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, told Danbatta that he would speak to fellow governors about the need to harmonise taxes payable by telecoms operators.

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