Telecom Giants MTN have pointed out the adverse effects free call apps such as Viber and WhatsApp are having on the sustainability of its businesses.
MTN’s Chief Executive Officer, Ferdinand Moolman, said this while making a presentation at a hearing convened by Senate Committee on Communications on Tuesday.
The Senate hearing was organized following the now suspended data tariff hike by the Nigerian Communications Commission.
Last week, NCC had directed the major telecommunications companies to increase data price in order to allow “new entrants” acquire market share and operate profitably.
The policy was abandoned after the ensuing public outcry which revealed how unpopular the policy was with majority of the populace.
At the Tuesday’s hearing, Mr. Moolman, highlighted factors impacting Nigeria’s telecommunications industry.
Mr. Moolman complained about:
“The depletion of operator revenues by unlicensed providers of “over-the-top” telecoms services who do not have any physical presence; nor pay any taxes; nor make any significant contribution to employment or other socio-economic objectives of government in Nigeria.”
He singled out WhatsApp and Viber as the companies that were eroding the gains of Nigeria’s telecom progress; he also suggested Nigeria takes firm actions against these companies like the United Arab Emirates.
He also lamented the inability of operators to access foreign exchange.
“This is particularly debilitating given that most of our inputs are sourced off-shore. This has very significantly increased both operating and capital expenses.”
Also, speaking at the hearing, NCC’s boss, Umar Dambatta, said the move by the NCC last week was to ensure competition.
Mr. Dambatta said major telecom firms offering data at low cost would later raise the price after pushing competitors (new entrants) out of market.
Communications Minister, Adebayo Shittu, told the hearing he was not consulted by the NCC before issuing the directive.
Another major telecom firm, Globacom, however, said floor pricing should be left to market forces and not to the regulator.