By NBF News

The House of Representatives is making moves to compel service providers to reserve at least, 30 per cent of their total shares for local investors.

Speaker of the House, Mr Dimeji Bankole, who announced this at a public hearing by the Committees on Communications and Commerce, noted that the moves were to stimulate local participation in management and ownership of the GSM sub-sector.

Declaring open a public hearing on a bill for an act to facilitate electronic transactions in Nigeria and other related matters and a bill for an act to make provision for Nigerians to acquire interest in telecommunications companies carrying on GSM in Nigeria and other matters connected therewith, the Speaker said by the time the National Assembly passed a bill to that effect, 30 percent of shares of all telecommunications companies would be for Nigerians to grab.

According to him, the House has realized that the issue of local content should go beyond the mere acquisition of operational licenses. 'Without the acquisition of appropriate technology, managerial know-how and enhancing the share of our peoples' participation in the telecoms industry, the aim of the overall policy on local content will be a mere ritual that will not translate into local ownership of the Nigerian economy,' Bankole observed.

He challenged stakeholders at the public hearing to understand the relevance of the bill from this perspective, adding that the National Assembly was ready to provide a legal framework to facilitate electronic transactions in the country in order to institute a culture of efficiency, transparency and probity.

Chairman of the Committee on Communications, Mr Dave Salako in his welcome address, observed that the nation's savings and investments were crucial to its long run economic growth and they were related to the international flow of goods and capital as measured by net export and foreign investments.

He further added that the passage of the bills was to make sure that investment in the nation's telecommunication industry contributed to economic growth by establishing the right policy environment. According to him, the bilsl when passed would mandate all GSM operators to comply with the provisions of the law within one year and six months.