- Telecoms Subscribers to Get Poorer Services as Vandalism Rises
Frustrations being experienced by telecoms subscribers on account of poor services will increase even further, if the activities of vandals, which seem to be on the upward swing in Nigeria’s telecommunications sector are not checked.
This is even as operators continue to witness increasing fibre cuts and theft of infrastructure, especially their generating sets and diesel, which they use to power their base stations.
The increasing act of vandalism is impacting negatively on the quality of telecommunications services across the country, with the resultant effect being high rate of drop calls, higher calls terminations, undelivered text messages, poorer networks connectivity and a host of others.
The Guardian reliably gathered on Tuesday that fibre cut menace increased by 60 per cent in 2016. Besides, about 10,000 generating sets were said to have been lost to miscreants in the year. In 2015, report had it that the industry recorded about 1,200 fibre cuts.
While the industry still grapples with shortage of Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), which is currently put at 29,000 and spread across the country, The Guardian gathered through the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the industry’s network of over 25,000 BTS spread across the country is powered with about 50,000 generating sets.ALTON is the industry body for all telecommunications companies and service providers.
The Guardian gathered that a direct operator, like MTN, Globacom and others, use a 15-20KVA generating set, while those on co-location run a 27KVA set, which are changed sometimes every two years depending on wear and tear forces.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator, had at a forum in December 2014, disclosed that the sector was home to 29,000 BTS, and noted that it was abysmally low to carry the traffic on the various networks.
For effect, NCC declared that the country needed about 80,000 BTS to meet growing telecommunications service demands across the country.Further investigations showed that telecoms operators, who do not rely on Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) for electric power to run their BTS, fully relied on their generating sets. Each has two generating sets, with one as standby.
As such, based on the arrangement, telecoms operators usually have challenges of poor service quality as a result of the activities of the miscreants, which lead to service disruptions and downtime on various networks.A source in MTN Nigeria, told The Guardian that the firm had since the beginning of the year being coping with two fibre cuts on a daily basis across the country.
MTN, which has about 65 million subscribers, said that Boko Haram, the extremist Islamic sect, had destroyed 120 of its sites between 2013 and 2014. The company had at a recent function declared that at least 80 sites were destroyed during the last quarter of 2014.
During a working visit of the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, to MTN Head Office, in Lagos, a former Corporate Services Executive, MTN Nigeria, Amina Oyagbola, had solicited government’s support to address the monster of infrastructure vandalism to further improve service delivery to end users.
A telecommunications expert, Kehinde Aluko, said the increasing menace of vandalism has become a dent on the success of the sector.He stressed that this development has also limited many telecommunications operators from completely implementing outlined network expansion initiatives in the country, amid rising cost of doing business in an industry that is heavily dependent on foreign exchange and capital.
At forum earlier in the year, the Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya, claimed that Nigerian operators spend between $3 billion and $4 billion as capital expenditure yearly on network expansion initiatives.
He explained that if vandalism of telecoms equipment and installations continued unabated, Nigerian subscribers could experience higher frequency of dropped calls, incoherent transmission and undelivered text messages.
“Two per cent to three per cent of Nigeria’s telecoms sites are affected by random shutdown and destruction at any given point in time,”added. Experts are of the view that the current situation has been exacerbated by the failure of the National Assembly to pass the Critical National Infrastructure Bill.
The bill, if passed into law, will criminalise any act of vandalism of telecoms equipment, since they will be classified as critical national infrastructure.
According to Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, stressed that inadequate power supply and insecurity; vandalism; multiple taxation and regulation among others have impacted seriously on the fortunes of the industry.
Adebayo said telecoms infrastructure should be seen as critical equipment just like the oil pipelines, as well as PHCN and NITEL (Nigerian Telecommunications Limited) facilities.
Gold Gained Ahead of Joe Biden Inauguration 2021
Gold price rose from one and a half month low on Tuesday ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
The precious metal, largely regarded as a haven asset by investors, edged up by 0.2 percent to $1,844.52 per ounce on Tuesday, up from $1,802.61 on Monday.
He said, “The key factor appears to be the (U.S.) currency.”
As expected, a change in administration comes with the change in economic policies, especially taking into consideration the peculiarities of the present situation. In fact, even though Biden, Janet Yellen and the rest of the new cabinet are expected to go all out on additional stimulus with the support of Democrats controlled Houses, economic uncertainties with rising COVID-19 cases and slow vaccine distribution remained a huge concern.
Also, the effectiveness of the vaccines can not be ascertained until wider rollout.
Still, which policy would be halted or sustained by the incoming administration remained a concern that has forced many investors to once again flee other assets for Gold ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration.
Crude Oil Holds Steady Above $55 Per Barrel on Tuesday
Brent Crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, rose from $54.46 per barrel on Monday to $55.27 per barrel as of 9:03 am Nigerian time on Tuesday.
Last week, Brent crude oil rose to 11 months high of $57.38 per barrel before pulling back on rising COVID-19 cases and lockdowns in key global economies like the United Kingdom, Euro-Area, China, etc.
While OPEC has left 2021 oil demand unchanged and President-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, experts are saying the rising number of new cases of COVID-19 amid poor vaccine distribution could drag on growth and demand for oil in 2021.
On Friday, Dan Yergin, vice-chairman at IHS Markit, said in addition to the stimulus package “There are two other things that are going with it … one is of course, vaccinations — in the sense that eventually this crisis is going to end, and maybe by the spring, lockdowns will be over.”
“The other thing is what Saudi Arabia did. This is the third time Saudi Arabia has made a sudden change in policy in less than a year, and this one was to announce (the) 1 million barrel a day cut — partly because they are worried about the impact of the surge in virus that’s occurring,” he said.
Also, the stimulus being injected into the United States economy could spur huge Shale production and disrupt OPEC and allies’ efforts at balancing the global oil market in 2021.
Crude Oil Pulled Back Despite Joe Biden Stimulus
Crude oil pulled back on Friday despite the $1.9 trillion stimulus package announced by U.S President-elect, Joe Biden.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, pulled back from $57.38 per barrel on Wednesday to $55.52 per barrel on Friday in spite of the huge stimulus package announced on Thursday.
On Thursday, OPEC, in its latest outlook for the year, said uncertainties remain high in 2021 with the number of COVID-19 new cases on the rise.
OPEC said, “Uncertainties remain high going forward with the main downside risks being issues related to COVID-19 containment measures and the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior.”
“These will also include how many countries are adapting lockdown measures, and for how long. At the same time, quicker vaccination plans and a recovery in consumer confidence provide some upside optimism.”
Governments across Europe have announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns, with vaccinations not expected to have a significant impact for the next few months.
“The complex remains in pause mode, a development that should not be surprising given the magnitude of the oil price gains that have been developing for some 2-1/2 months,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said.
Still, OPEC left its crude oil projections unchanged for the year. The oil cartel expected global oil demand to increase by 5.9 million barrels per day year on year to an average of 95.9 million per day in 2020.
But also OPEC expects a recent rally and stimulus to boost U.S. Shale crude oil production in the year, a projection Investors King experts expect to hurt OPEC strategy in 2021.
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