The Nigerian House of Representatives has summoned major telecommunications operators and regulators in the country over poor network coverage and connectivity issues. The invitees include MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, Globacom, 9Mobile, the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). They are to appear before the ad hoc committee on the Need to Investigate Failure/Inability of the NCC to Promote Widespread Availability and Usage of Mobile Telecommunication Network Services throughout Nigeria As Well As Accruals/Utilisation of Funds in the Universal Service Provision Fund between May 8 and 10, 2023.
In addition to the network providers and regulators, the governing board of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), the Accountant General of the Federation, the Auditor General for the Federation, telecommunication equipment vendors in Nigeria, and civil society organisations have also been invited to the hearing. The investigation was initiated by an earlier resolution of the House, which expressed concerns over the non-provision of mobile telecommunication network services to under-served and unserved areas of the country despite the availability of the USPF, which was created for this purpose.
Bamidele Salam, the chairman of the ad hoc committee, noted that the committee would investigate the total accruals into and utilisation of the USPF by the NCC since inception of the fund. The USPF is an allocation of 2.5 per cent of the annual turnover of mobile telecommunication network operators as annual license renewal fee.
The House of Representatives had previously resolved to investigate the NCC over its use of the USPF. The ad hoc committee has been given four weeks to report back to the House with its findings and recommendations for further legislative action.
The hearing is a significant step towards addressing the challenges of poor network coverage and connectivity in Nigeria, particularly in under-served and unserved areas of the country. It is hoped that the outcomes of the investigation will lead to a more effective and efficient use of the USPF and better network coverage for Nigerians.
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