Telecommunications services providers under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria have said a tariff review for telco services may happen if the rise in the price of diesel is sustained.
The Chairman, ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, disclosed this to our correspondent in an interview.
According to him, the telecoms industry is one of the major consumers of diesel in the country.
The sector, he said, had already been impacted by the current hike in diesel prices and scarcity of the product.
He said, “It is already impacting us and very significantly so. We are one of the industries that have the highest consumption of diesel across the country.
“Our need is not just in the major cities; it is all across the country. Diesel is required in all the places that require services. We are already significantly impacted. And it is not just about the high costs, it is also about availability. Suppliers are beginning to find it difficult to supply the commodity because of scarcity.
“When they find, costs of haulage have gone up. The cost of procurement of the diesel itself has gone up significantly. We are actually in a very bad situation. And how this will play in end-user pricing requires us to follow the right channel, the regulatory procedure for conveying our complaint to the regulator.”
According to Adebayo, telcos will continue to ensure that there are no service disruptions in the nation. However, he added that there might be a need for a tariff review if the present diesel crisis persists.
He said, “The diesel situation is a problem at this time. We are doing all that we can to ensure the business continues as usual in all cases and other every circumstance. The assurance for the public is that there would not be a time of outage because of the current diesel crisis. What I cannot assure is that at some point there may not be a consideration for some form of tariff review.
“I cannot guarantee that it will not happen sometime in the near future. I cannot guarantee that. But as it stands today, I will reassure the public that there would be continuous service at all times.
“We will continue to solve the problem to the best of our ability. We certainly need to approach the government for some intervention at some point. We are where we are. All that we are doing at this time is to ensure there are no disruptions to service.”
According to a source in one of the telecoms companies in the nation, the operating environment for telcos is now tougher. The source added that the present crisis might cause service disruptions if it persists.
The source said, “For instance, we have about 20,000 base transceiver stations across the nation, and each one of them has two industrial generators.
“You can imagine what it must be costing to fuel two generators in over 20,000 places. It is a lot. As you are aware, we do not directly manage those stations anymore. But irrespective of who is managing it, the cost has definitely been impacted. Operating is more difficult now.
“In the long-term, this will cause service disruptions. We might have to renegotiate contracts with those helping us manage to the stations. As you know our call rates are regulated, meaning there is a ceiling and a floor. We cannot because of this change our call rates.”
The price of diesel has tilted towards N850/litre, and is continuing to increase daily. In January, diesel was N350 per litre in Lagos.