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'Not Party Time Yet' as Nigeria grapples with telecommunications reform
Unformatted Document Text:  “Not Party Time Yet”: Nigeria grapples with Telecommunications Reform 5 the liberalization of the market, government divestiture of interest in NITEL, and independent market control. The government had to listen because the institutions tied liberalization and divestiture to any future loans to the government including a $200 million loan that had been suspended by the World Bank. On the other hand, the foreign governments were interested in opening the market for an entirely different reason. For them, liberalization provided a potentially huge market for their private corporations to expand services to Nigeria. The Nigerian government acquiesced to these pressures for several reasons. Previously, the Nigerian government had been able to survive without loans during the years of “oil boom” i.e. periods of huge profits from crude oil sales. However, those profits had slowed down considerably in the late 1970s and the government had to rely on international loans to initiate or complete several projects. It had very little cash of its own because revenue from other economic sectors had declined along with the falling oil profits. In fact, the need for a massive infusion of cash had become a major goal. Therefore, the government had to acquiesce to the pressures in order to access loans to develop several economic sectors. More importantly, several experts assured that government’s development goals could still be satisfied in a liberalized telecommunications market. These goals were as follows: 1) quickening telecommunications development through a more competitive marketplace, 2) massive infusion of cash to government coffers through spectrum auctions, licenses, and taxation of market competitors, and 3) an eventual development of a telecommunications industrial base in Nigeria. Ultimately, government capitulated by promulgating the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) decree in 1992 to liberalize the telecommunications market. The decree was focused squarely on several telecommunications applications and intended to attract competitors, both from local and foreign sources. The functions of the Commission are extensive, but its primary aim is to promote competition (NCC Decree No. 75, 1992). It is that function that provides the NCC with powers to license service providers in such a way as to achieve the three key goals mentioned above.

Authors: Onwumechili, Chuka. and Okereke-Arungwa, Joy.
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“Not Party Time Yet”: Nigeria grapples with Telecommunications Reform
5
the liberalization of the market, government divestiture of interest in NITEL, and
independent market control. The government had to listen because the institutions tied
liberalization and divestiture to any future loans to the government including a $200
million loan that had been suspended by the World Bank. On the other hand, the foreign
governments were interested in opening the market for an entirely different reason. For
them, liberalization provided a potentially huge market for their private corporations to
expand services to Nigeria.
The Nigerian government acquiesced to these pressures for several reasons.
Previously, the Nigerian government had been able to survive without loans during the
years of “oil boom” i.e. periods of huge profits from crude oil sales. However, those
profits had slowed down considerably in the late 1970s and the government had to rely
on international loans to initiate or complete several projects. It had very little cash of its
own because revenue from other economic sectors had declined along with the falling oil
profits. In fact, the need for a massive infusion of cash had become a major goal.
Therefore, the government had to acquiesce to the pressures in order to access loans to
develop several economic sectors. More importantly, several experts assured that
government’s development goals could still be satisfied in a liberalized
telecommunications market. These goals were as follows: 1) quickening
telecommunications development through a more competitive marketplace, 2) massive
infusion of cash to government coffers through spectrum auctions, licenses, and taxation
of market competitors, and 3) an eventual development of a telecommunications
industrial base in Nigeria.
Ultimately, government capitulated by promulgating the Nigerian
Communications Commission (NCC) decree in 1992 to liberalize the
telecommunications market. The decree was focused squarely on several
telecommunications applications and intended to attract competitors, both from local and
foreign sources. The functions of the Commission are extensive, but its primary aim is
to promote competition (NCC Decree No. 75, 1992). It is that function that provides the
NCC with powers to license service providers in such a way as to achieve the three key
goals mentioned above.


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