- 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.
Crude Oil Rises to $72 a Barrel on Strong Demand Recovery
Oil prices rose on Friday to fresh multi-year highs and were set for their third weekly jump on expectations of a recovery in fuel demand in the United States, Europe and China as rising vaccination rates lead to an easing of pandemic curbs.
Brent crude futures edged up 13 cents to $72.65 a barrel to 1145 GMT, a day after closing at their highest since May 2019.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 14 cents to $70.43 a barrel, a day after their highest close since October 2018.
U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs expects Brent crude prices to reach $80 per barrel this summer as vaccination rollouts boost global economic activity.
The International Energy Agency said in its monthly report that OPEC+ oil producers would need to boost output to meet demand set to recover to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022.
“OPEC+ needs to open the taps to keep the world oil markets adequately supplied,” the Paris-based energy watchdog said.
It said that rising demand and countries’ short-term policies were at odds with the IEA’s call to end new oil, gas and coal funding.
“In 2022 there is scope for the 24-member OPEC+ group, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, to ramp up crude supply by 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) above its July 2021-March 2022 target,” the IEA said.
Data showing road traffic returning to pre-COVID-19 levels in North America and most of Europe was encouraging, ANZ Research analysts said in a note.
“Even the jet fuel market is showing signs of improvement, with flights in Europe rising 17% over the past two weeks, according to Eurocontrol,” ANZ analysts said.
Africa Oil Week Remains Force of Good for Africa
Hyve Group Plc, organisers of Africa Oil Week have confirmed that business opportunities and discussions at the 2021 edition will remain focused on driving investment into Africa for its sustainable socio-economic development, as it has done for the past 27 years.
The event which will temporarily move to Dubai for 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions in South Africa will take place on 8-11 November 2021 and has support from key African stakeholders.
Atty. Saifuah-Mai Gray, CEO of National Oil Company of Liberia said “As an oil and gas hub, Dubai represents a huge opportunity for Governments to meet a high concentration of investors with the financial and technical capability to partner in our national upstream”
Africa Oil Week is known for driving deals and transaction across the African oil and gas sector, and after being forced to host the 2020 edition virtually, confirmation that a live event will take place in 2021 has delighted clients.
Miriam Seleoane, Assistant Director at the Department of Trade and Industry and Competition said
“The DTIC has supported the Africa Oil Week for many years. For 2021 we will be taking a delegation of 20+ companies to the Oil Week to advance partnership and investment dialogue between our South African businesses and international partners. Africa Oil Week remains a huge platform for the DTIC and our South African private sector”.
The event will run under the theme “succeeding in a changed market”, and it will be the only large-scale oil and gas event focused solely on Africa to run in person in 2021.
In a previous statement, the organiser cited Dubai as the “next best location” after Cape Town due to the exceptional progress made in the UAE’s vaccination programme. Dubai is also the leading financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia and presents an opportunity for attendees to meet with new capital holders, further driving investment into Africa.
The 2022 event will return to Cape Town, where organises have said it is the event’s “natural home” and to which they are strongly committed for the long-term.
Crude Oil Rebounds on Thursday After Slipping on U.S Weak Demand
Oil prices rose on Thursday a day after slipping on data indicating weak U.S. driving season fuel demand as investors eyed upcoming U.S. economic data.
Brent crude oil futures were up 18 cents, or 0.25%, at $72.40 a barrel, holding just shy of a high not seen since May 2019.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate oil futures rose 11 cents, or 0.16%, to $70.07 a barrel, staying near its highest since Oct. 2018.
“The market is recovering impressively from yesterday’s dismal weekly EIA report, the drop in weekly gasoline demand was particularly disappointing,” said Tamas Varga, analyst at PVM Oil Associates.
“It will interesting to see whether the monthly OPEC report due out later will confirm last month’s upbeat demand assessment for the second half the year. If it does, as expected, it should support oil prices.”
Varga added that U.S. inflation data and jobless claims would provide more direction on the health of world’s biggest economy and clues as to whether the Federal Reserve might start tapering stimulus.
U.S. crude oil stockpiles that include the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) fell for the 11th straight week as refiners ramped up output, but fuel inventories grew sharply due to weak consumer demand, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories that exclude the SPR fell by 5.2 million barrels in the week to June 4 to 474 million barrels, the third consecutive weekly drop. But fuel stocks were up sharply, with product supplied falling to 17.7 million barrels per day (bpd) versus 19.1 million the week before.
Implied gasoline demand fell to 8.48 million bpd in the week to June 4, down from 9.15 million bpd from the week before, but up from 7.9 million bpd a year ago, EIA data showed.
Weighing on prices, India’s fuel demand slumped in May to its lowest since August last year, with a second COVID-19 wave stalling mobility and muting economic activity in the world’s third largest oil consumer.
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