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Experts Warn Against Communications Tax

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Services Tax
  • Experts Warn Against  Communications Tax 

With Information Communication Technology,ICT, being considered as a resort to salvage the economy in its perilous times, experts have advised Federal Government against introduction of communication service tax.

They posited that the government should rather provide incentives for operators in the sector to encourage more investment.

According to the President of Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria ,ATCON, Olusola Teniola, while the government was struggling to balance its budget in the face of recession, it must provide enabling environment such that would sustain businesses and not to further discourage investment through multiple taxes.

It would be recalled that association which recently paid a courtesy visit to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, appealed to the government to cut down the proposed CST from nine per cent to 0.2 per cent .

“The truth is that there is severe over-taxation in our industry. It explains the slow penetration of services into areas yet to be covered by our services across the country. Contrary to popular belief, telecommunication operators and service providers are barely sustaining their existence in these hard times.

“There are reasons to suggest that the desire to widen the tax net is laudable and that as things stand telecommunication is about one of the few areas where the net-capture may be widened,” the ATCON boss stated.

Still maintaining this position, Teniola stated that an attempt to introduce additional tax to a sector that was still battling excessive taxes would do more harm than good to the economy.

The ATCON President who restated the association’s position at a media briefing yesterday noted that the proposed move would be technically and economically disastrous.

“Now that the Central Bank had exhausted all the tools in its arsenal to remedy economic problems, it is high time we talked less and acted more as we may be heading towards depression if we don’t act fast.

“At a time like this when the government is looking at diversifying the economy through ICT, it is imperative that the sector is projected positively by making it attractive to both operators and consumers.”

Suggesting how to make the sector beneficial to operators, Nigerians and the economy, Teniola pointed out that “Government should come up with incentives like tax holiday, tax rebate and other motivations that would drive foreign investment into the country and create a broadband environment as data is gaining more popularity than voice service.

“It is necessary at this stage that the local content bill be adopted and also implement the bill in Oil &Gas to ICT through the Office of Nigerian Content Development in ICT (ONC).This will help reduce capital flight.

He was quick to identify lack of access to foreign exchange as one of the challenges demotivating operators in the sector hence, urged government to look into it without any delay.

He expressed the readiness of the association to work closely with the authority at resolving and arriving at an appropriate balance to present economic problems adding that the association was committed to defend and sustain the investment of its members.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Technology

Chinese Smartphone Giant Xiaomi Shares Gains Over 6 Percent After U.S. Agrees to Remove it From Blacklist

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Xiaomi - Investorsking

The U.S. has agreed to remove Xiaomi from a blacklist that would have barred Americans from investing in the Chinese smartphone maker.

Shares of Chinese tech giant Xiaomi rallied as much as 6.5 percent after the news, before paring some gains.

In January, the administration under former President Donald Trump designated Xiaomi as one of several “Communist Chinese military companies” or CCMC.

This meant the world’s third-largest smartphone maker was subject to a November executive order restricting American investors from buying shares or related securities of any companies given this designation by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

Xiaomi brought a legal challenge against the U.S. Department of Defense.

In March, a U.S. court granted Xiaomi a preliminary injunction against the Trump-era order, saying the company would “suffer irreparable harm in the form of serious reputational and unrecoverable economic injuries.”

And on Tuesday, the DOD agreed that a “final order vacating” Xiaomi’s designation as a CCMC “would be appropriate,” according to a court filing.

Xiaomi and the DOD will “negotiate over the specific terms of the order” and provide the court with a “joint proposed order” on or before May 20.

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Telecommunications

Airtel Africa Grows Revenue by 14.2 Percent to $3,908m in Q1 2021

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Airtel Financial Results - Investors King

Airtel Africa Plc, a leading telecommunications company in Africa, grew its revenue by 14.2 percent to $3,908 million in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021, the company stated in its just-released financial statements.

The company reported growth across all its regions with East Africa leading with 23.5 percent growth. Nigeria followed with 21.9 percent growth while Francophone Africa accounted for 10 percent growth. See Airtel Africal financial highlights below.

Airtel Africa Financial Highlights

 Reported revenue grew by 14.2% to $3,908m, with Q4’21 reported revenue growth of 15.4%.
 Constant currency underlying revenue growth was 19.4%, with Q4’21 growth of 21.7%. Growth was recorded across all regions: Nigeria up 21.9%, East Africa up 23.5% and Francophone Africa up 10%; and across key services, with revenues for voice up 11.0%, data up 31.2% and mobile money up 35.5%.
 Underlying EBITDA was $1,792m, up 18.3% in reported currency, and growing 25.2% in constant currency.
 Underlying EBITDA margin was 46.1%, adding 181 basis points(210 basis points higher in constant currency). Underlying EBITDA margin for Q4’21 was 47.7%, an increase of 389 basis points in constant currency.
 Operating profit increased 24.2% to $1,119m in reported currency, and by 32.8% in constant currency.
 Free cash flow was $647m, up 42.8% on the prior year.
 Basic EPS was 9.0 cents, down 12.6%, largely due to prior year exceptional items and a one-off derivative gain. Excluding these, basic restated EPS rose 44.5%. EPS before exceptional items was 8.2 cents.
 Our customer base grew by 6.9% to 118.2 million, with increased penetration across mobile data (customer base up 14.5%) and mobile money services (customer base up 18.5%). The recent slowdown in customer base growth has been due to new SIM registration regulationsin Nigeria.
 The Board has recommended a final dividend of 2.5 cents per share, making the total dividend for FY21 4.0 cents per share.

Commenting on the company’s performance, Raghunath Mandava, chief executive officer, said “In these challenging timesI want to say a huge thank you to all our employees, our business partners, and governments and regulators who have supported us, and in turn facilitated our continued support to the economies and communities we serve.

“Our performance has been strong, with reported growth of 13.6% in underlying revenue and 18.3% in underlying EBITDA, and constant currency growth of 19.4% and 25.2% respectively. Contributions to this growth came across all regions, with particular improvement in Francophone Africa, and across all our major services, with mobile money, data and voice each posting double-digit revenue growth.

“Our customer base also grew strongly for most of the year with new customer registration requirements in Nigeria stemming our onboarding of new customers in the final quarter, and these restrictions were lifted in second half of April.

“In line with our strategy of unlocking value in our mobile money business, we will soon welcome two new minority investors (The Rise Fund and Mastercard) in agreed transactions which value this part of our business at $2.65bn, as well as bringing $300m into the Group. We have also agreed to sell more of our tower portfolio, yielding yet more cash for the business.

“The Covid pandemic had eased during the course of the year, however, more recently we have seen a surge in cases. So far this has had no adverse impact on the business, though we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

“In these times, our purpose of transforming lives has never been more critical. It has always meant more than simply providing mobile and financial services; it is about our drive to create a sustainable future. To that end, this year the leadership team has worked to create our sustainability framework, outlining the role we can play and the focus areas where we can make the biggest difference for each of our business, our people, our community, and our environment.

“We will report back with our goals later this year and deliver our first sustainability report in 2022. The combination of bringing connectivity to underpenetrated mobile markets and improving financial inclusion through banking the unbanked, across our territories of operation, together provide us with a sizeable runway of sustainable profitable growth potential, and one we remain very confident of delivering.”

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Social Media

Facebook Opens Accelerator Programme for Nigeria, Others

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Facebook Accelerator Programme - Investors King

Social media giant, Facebook, has started receiving applications for its Accelerator Programme for this year.

It said it is, therefore, inviting community leaders from Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya to apply for the 2021 Facebook Community Accelerator Programme, a programme that offers participants training, mentorship and up to $50,000 in funds to invest in an initiative that extends their community’s positive impact.

Its Partner Management Lead, Middle East and Africa Community Partnerships, Kiran Yoliswa, said Facebook communities and their leaders are helping to resolve social challenges, sharing knowledge and information, while connecting with others that share their interests or passion for a cause.

We’ve seen so many incredible communities from across South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria using our platform to drive change and provide support and encouragement for thousands of people, we’re excited to offer their Facebook Community leaders this program to help amplify their impact even more,” Yoliswa said, that the aim of the programme is to help leaders of Facebook communities to harness the power of their community to turn ideas into action. The selected leaders will spend five months learning from experts, coaches and a customised curriculum so they can strengthen their community.

Lessons include community identity foundations, leading action-oriented programmes and sustainability. Participants will also receive early access to new Facebook products aimed at helping communities better manage and activate their members.

Participants will identify an important initiative that will create a positive impact on the broader world and develop a plan to mobilise their community around their goal. Initiatives will be shared with potential partners, mentors and a panel of judges for the chance to be awarded funding and receive public recognition.

Participants will then spend three months executing their initiatives. They will collaborate with advocates and leaders in the community space and work with the Facebook team to bring their ideas to life.

Yoliswa said the programme is open to communities that have a presence in Facebook Groups with leaders who are 18 years or older. Communities must have existed for over one year and must have a minimum size of 1,000 members. Applications open today, May 4 – 31, 2021.

The Community Accelerator is part of our Facebook Community Leadership Programme, a global initiative that invests in people building communities.

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