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NCC Bows to Pressure, Suspends Data Tariff Increase

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  • NCC Bows to Pressure, Suspends Data Tariff Increase

The Nigerian Communications Commission has suspended its directive to telecommunications operators to increase tariffs on data services available on their networks.

The suspension followed the uproar that the announcement of imposition of a price floor on the network operators has generated. The price floor, which would have taken effect today (Thursday) is about 200 per cent higher than what mobile telecommunications operators currently charge for data.

In a statement issued by the Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, in Abuja on Wednesday, the commission said the decision to suspend the directive was taken after due consultation with industry stakeholders and in view of the general complaints by consumers across the country.

Ojobo stated, “The commission has weighed all of this and consequently asked all operators to maintain the status quo until the conclusion of a study to determine retail prices for broadband and data services in Nigeria.

“Recall that the commission wrote to the mobile network operators on November 1, 2016 on the determination of an interim price floor for data services after the stakeholders’ consultative meeting of October 19, 2016.

“The decision to have a price floor was primarily to promote a level playing field for all operators in the industry, encourage small operators and new entrants.”

He added, “The price floor in 2014 was N3.11k/MB, but was removed in 2015. The price floor that was supposed to flag off on December 1, 2016 was N0.90k/MB.

“In taking that decision, the smaller operators were exempted from the new price regime by virtue of their small market share. The decision on the price floor was taken in order to protect the consumers, who are at the receiving end, and save the smaller operators from predatory services that are likely to suffocate them and push them into extinction.”

Ojobo noted that the price floor was not an increase in price, but a regulatory safeguard put in place by the telecommunications regulator to check anti-competitive practices by dominant operators.

Consumers, however, believe that it is a new consumption tax imposed by the regulator since they have opposed a plan by the government to impose a nine per cent tax on telephone calls made in the country.

Ojobo further explained, “Before the now suspended price floor of N0.90k/MB, the industry average for the dominant operators, including MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, EMTS Limited (Etisalat) and Airtel Nigeria Limited, was N0.53k/MB.

“Etisalat offered N0.94k/MB; Airtel, N0.52k/MB; MTN, N0.45k/MB; and Globacom N0.21k/MB.

“The smaller operators/new entrants charge the following: Smile Communications, N0.84k/MB; Spectranet, N0.58k/MB; and NATCOMS (ntel), N0.72k/MB.”

He added that the NCC, as a responsive agency of the government, took into consideration the feelings of the consumers and so decided to suspend the new price floor.

Despite the announcement of the suspension, the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers warned the Federal Government that it would resist any attempt in the future to increase data tariff rates in the country.

The NATCOMS stated this on Wednesday, some hours after the NCC said it had suspended action on the new price floor of data tariff.

The association said that the directive to implement the new price floor, in the first place, was “insensitive, callous and diabolical, so we will resist it should the Federal Government turn around in the future and decide to increase data tariff rates.”

The NATCOMS President, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said, “Since the NCC is an agency of the Federal Government, the purported directive was designed by the government to cast more financial burden on the already depressed citizenry.”

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.

Crude Oil

South Africa’s iGas, PetroSA and Strategic Fuel Fund Merge to Create South African National Petroleum Company

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The South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has announced the merger of Central Energy Fund (CEF) subsidiaries iGas, PetroSA and the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF).

The merger will be effective from 1 April 2021 and the new company will be called the South African National Petroleum Company.

The merger, driven by the pursuit of implementing a new company that has a streamlined operating model via the development of a shared services system and a common information platform, comes a few months after cabinet approval and the confirmation that PetroSA had incurred losses of R20 billion since 2014.

Additional factors which prompted the move included the determination to strengthen PetroSA which had not had a permanent CEO in five years prior to the appointment of CEO Ishmael Poolo last and, had become majorly ungainful since its failure to secure gas for the gas-to-liquids refinery project in Mossel Bay.

While the merger deadline has been set, the portfolio committee expressed reservations to the department’s likelihood of meeting the deadline, considering the existing legislative regime, pending issues raised in the SFF and PetroSA forensic reports, as well as PetroSA’s current insolvency and liquidity challenges, the official press statement on the briefing revealed.

“South Africa’s energy sector is entering a new dawn,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “With gas discoveries off the coast and the announcement of the REIPPP programme bid window 5 and 6 on the horizon, now is the most opportune time for the merger of the CEF subsidiaries. Of course, it is not an easy task and delays may be anticipated but, this move signals a real change towards a meaningful strategy that will not only be beneficial to the DMRE but to potential investors and local development as well.”

The African Energy Chamber welcomes this move and acknowledges that this is yet another step supporting the country’s determination to restarting the engines of sustainable growth and the transformation of energy policy and infrastructure.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Hits $71.34 After Saudi Largest Oil Facilities Were Attacked

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Brent Crude Oil Rises to $71.34 Following Missile Attack on Saudi Largest Oil Facilities

Brent crude, against which Nigerian oil is priced, jumped to $71.34 a barrel on Monday during the Asian trading session following a report that Saudi Arabia’s largest oil facilities were attacked by missiles and drones fired on Sunday by Houthi military in Yemen.

On Monday, the Saudi energy ministry said one of the world’s largest offshore oil loading facilities at Ras Tanura was attacked and a ballistic missile targeted Saudi Aramco facilities.

One of the petroleum tank areas at the Ras Tanura Port in the Eastern Region, one of the largest oil ports in the world, was attacked this morning by a drone, coming from the sea,” the ministry said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.

It also stated that shrapnel from a ballistic missile dropped near Aramco’s residential compound in Eastern Dhahran.

Such acts of sabotage do not only target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also the security and stability of energy supplies to the world, and therefore, the global economy,” a ministry spokesman said in a statement on state media.

Oil price surged because the market interpreted the occurrence as supply sabotage given Saudi is the largest OPEC producer. A decline in supply is positive for the oil industry.

However, Brent crude oil pulled back to $69.49 per barrel at 12:34 pm Nigerian time because of the $1.9 trillion stimulus packed passed in the U.S.

Market experts are projecting that the stimulus will boost the United States economy and support U.S crude oil producers in the near-term, this they expect to boost crude oil production from share and disrupt OPEC strategy.

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Crude Oil

A Loud Blast Heard in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia’s Largest Crude Oil Production Site

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Loud Blast Heard in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia’s Largest Crude Oil Production Site

Two residents from the eastern city of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday said they heard a loud blast, but they are yet to know the cause, according to a Reuters report.

Saudi’s Eastern province is home to the kingdom’s largest crude oil production and export facilities of Saudi Aramco.

A blast in any of the facilities in that region could hurt global oil supplies and bolster oil prices above $70 per barrel in the first half of the year.

One of the residents said the explosion took place around 8:30 pm Saudi time while the other resident claimed the time was around 8:00 pm.

However, Saudi authorities are yet to confirm or respond to the story.

 

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