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By NBF News
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THE sales and auctions of various spectrum in the telecommunications sector has earned the country a whooping N300 billion since the GSM era, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Eugene Juwah, has said.

Juwah, who made this disclosure, while presenting a paper titled, 'Telecommunications Business in Nigeria: How far', at an event organised by the Nigerian-Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Lagos, at the weekend, added that the era has brought economic prosperity to the country.

The Director of Consumer Affairs Bureau, (NCC), Mrs. Mary Uduma had told The Guardian a forthnight ago that, the Commission has issued over 689 licensees within the last 10 years.

Uduma, who said the commission was working to ensure smooth operations of all spectrum issued, noted that some of the operators, which got some of the licenses were not utilising them effectively either because of intense competitions; poor funding or the said tough economic environment in the country.

A peep into the commission's 2011 budget revealed that it envisaged a total earning of N6.2 billion from spectrum sales this year alone. This revenue from sales of spectrum is paid directly into Federation/Consolidated Revenue Account by the commission.

According to an authoritative source, the NCC may award four spectrum licences before the end of 2011.

The source hinted that, four telecommunications firms would be licensed on the 2.5GHz spectrum by 2011, while two telecoms operators would be licensed on the 700MHz spectrum in two years.

With these licenses, the commission expected to stimulate competition and reduce prices.

The NCC is empowered by the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 to manage and administer the frequency spectrum as it relates to the communications sector.

Meanwhile, Juwah in his speech noted that between 2001 and 2009, the level of investment and Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) moved from a meager of $50 million to an excess of $18 billion, stressing that the impact of these investments on the economic growth has been very impressive.

He maintained that the telecommunications sector now contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was hitherto dominated by the Oil and Gas sector.

'The percentage share of GDP from the sector rose from 0.06 in 1999 to 3.66 by the end of 2009. According to estimates by Pyramid Research in a 2010 report, the yearly revenue from mobile services represents between two per cent and seven per cent of African countries' Nominal GDP; in Nigeria, this ratio is close to four per cent.

'It may be important to add that the recent global economic meltdown did not substantially affect the uptake of mobile services by the Nigerian subscribers as the monthly growth rate of active subscription averages about 1.2 million over a long period and has continued thereafter', he stated.

On the theme of the event, the NCC EVC said the growth in the telecommunications sector has had significant impact in the other sectors of the economy, stressing that the financial sector was perhaps, the one which activities have been deepened much more by telecommunications, than any other activity in recent times.

He noted that, in commercial banking services, the quantum of transactions catalysed by telecommunications services may yet be captured and it is doubtful if any bank in Nigeria is not a major beneficiary.

According to him, the financial sector has done tremendously well, as most banks have been involved on one loan syndication or another, with a typical recent example being the syndication of $650 million by eight Nigerian banks for Etisalat Nigeria.