A Unified Interest Rate is Positive Development, ATCON.

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The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has described the proposed unified exchange rate by President Bola Tinubu as a positive development for the telecom industry.

The Executive Secretary of ATCON, Mr. Ajibola Olude, who stated this in a media chat said, if implemented, a unified exchange rate will ease the burden of sourcing for forex by telecom operators. According to him, currently, telecom operators buy dollars from the black market, which is very expensive.

He noted that because of the high exchange rate, telcos end up using the money meant to buy multiple pieces of equipment to buy just one. Olude said that unifying the exchange rate would allow easy access to forex at equal rates for all players in the economy.

In addition to the implementation of the unified exchange rate, Olude also urged President Tinubu to look within the ICT sector to appoint a Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. The ATCON Secretary said that with the current challenges faced in the sector, there was no time to experiment with someone from outside the industry.

“We need someone who knows the challenges in the ICT sector and understands how to find solutions to them. The industry also needs someone ready to work with the critical stakeholders in the industry, not an independent person who would not listen to them,” he said.

On broadband, Olude said the new administration should work toward realizing the 70% target set in the National Broadband Plan 2020–2025. He said that as of March, broadband penetration was around 48.2%, noting that the country had two and a half years to achieve the plan’s targets.

He said the new administration should not only work toward meeting the target but also try to surpass and increase it. Olude said he believed that the current president was proactive and would explore private investors to achieve the 70% target.

He added that to further elevate the industry, the new administration must listen to relevant stakeholders on issues that have to do with the telecom and ICT sectors.

Reacting to the President’s advice to the Central Bank on its monetary policy, Olude urged the new administration to push for a single-digit interest rate, noting that the current 18.2% interest rate is killing businesses.

He also explained that the banks usually give out loans at 30% interest, which was higher than the actual rate. According to him, this is crippling innovation and development in the telecom industry.

Olude also urged the CBN to create a special fund for the telecom industry through commercial banks.

“This way, it will be easier for us to access loans at the same rate they give to other sectors. This gesture has already been extended to the agricultural sector, and the telecommunications industry has also become part of the ecosystem. CBN should open a window for our members to access loans and forex,” he said.

In his inaugural address on Monday, Nigeria’s newly elected President Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared his government’s decision to unify the exchange rate, replacing the previous multiple exchange rate regime implemented by the central bank during the administration of former President Buhari.

President Tinubu highlighted the importance of a unified exchange rate and emphasized the need to redirect funds from arbitrage toward meaningful investments. Additionally, he called for a reduction in interest rates, describing the current rates as detrimental to both people and businesses in Nigeria