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FORUM SEEKS ACTION AGAINST POOR TELECOM SERVICES, OTHERS IN AFRICA

By NBF News
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DESPITE the new recognition of Africa as the second largest mobile telecommunications connected continent in the world, with about 616 million connected lines, the services obtainable and prices offered in this sector are still far from meeting the global standard for competitiveness.

Specifically, it was noted that countries, including Rwanda, Botswana, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Liberia and Kenya among others still have major work to do in services being rendered and ensuring affordability of both services and products.

Speaking at the Day Two of the on-going AfricaCom Exhibition in Cape Town, South Africa yesterday, resource persons, while calling on government in the various countries to create a business friendly environment through right policies and liberalisation, urged operators to ensure that their services meet global standard and enhance reach through their affordability.

According to the Managing Director, Liberia Telecommunications Corporation, Ben Wolo, it has become highly imperative for operators in Africa to map out strategies of combating the poor quality of service, which he described as a major challenge that continues to erode on their performances in the last few years.

Wolo, who said Liberia had just landed its submarine cable, noted that the African operators must continue to invest in automation to drive down cost of services and improve significantly the quality.

Speaking in the same vein, Chairman, UMTS Forum and Orange Group, Jean-Pierre Bienaime, said the issue of poor quality of service, high cost of telecommunications products and services might continued to be on the rise, except obstacles aided by high level taxes; spectrum shortages; high licensing fees; and high number of competitors and price war were adequately and urgently tackled.

Admitting that Africa is enormously blessed with resources and human capacity, Bienaime said the continent is seriously beset by various infrastructural and institutional challenges, which needs concerted efforts to be resolved. He said ubiquitous broadband access amidst digital divide problem is also an issue that must be accorded urgent attention.

According to him, while price war will drive down cost, 'such move to increase customer base without adequate provision for the needed infrastructure is what is killing most operators presently. So, I suggest that, operators must have enough capacity to accommodate more subscribers before engaging in any price war.'