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The Impacts of Xenophobia attacks and Infrastructure Vandalisation on Nigerian’s Telecom Market

By: Kelechi Alexander, Published March 10th, 2017

Over the last 20 years, the Nigerian telecommunication market has grown tremendously and now forms the super structure of modern lifestyle, social and economic practices. Virtually every financial transactions, mobile money and mobile banking are made possible by the infrastructure and platforms provided by the telecom industry. The telecom and ICT industry currently contributes about 10 per cent to the GDP of the Nigerian Economy.  There are quite a number of positive impacts of telecommunication cutting across social lives, businesses, families, security and in governance.

The adverse practices towards telecom will hurt the industry to a large extent and could also greatly impact on the economy. The deliberate destruction of telecoms infrastructure and general vandalism is now becoming a worrisome issue. With the reprisal attacks against the renewed xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, Industry practitioners are worried that the outcome of these reprisal attacks could mean more harm than good to the Nigerian economy, considering the level of destruction and losses recorded by the victims at the end of the day.

Most people express concerns that the current threats to shut down South African businesses in Nigeria by the protesting Nigerian youths on MTN, DSTV and Shoprite among others may have too many consequences for the Nigerian economy. For instance, barely four days after the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, took their protest to MTN office in Maitama, Abuja and other South African establishments, checks reveal that some of the offices of these businesses are yet to open for their usual day to day activities. This could be probably due to fear of reprisal attacks.

A telecom analyst, Mr Nduka Odibo said that it could take Nigeria quite some time to recover the loss of any telecom company not operating for days either as a result of infrastructure damage or threat of it. According to Mr Nduka Odibo, in his statement that “We must understand that telecommunications is a catalyst for economic growth and with the precarious nature of our economy today, the least we could avoid is allowing these operators to close shop.” If these trends are allowed to continue, it would not only affect the services of these companies but will also impact negatively on the economy, leading to loss of millions of Naira.

“I don’t think that the continued Xenophobic attacks in both South Africa and Nigeria will favour any of the two economies, so there is urgent need for the various actors to act fast to save the economies from imminent losses” he advised.

Despite the threats and challenges, MTN Nigeria has also pledged confidence in the Nigeria telecoms market, promising to inject more money into the sector. MTN Group promised to continue to invest in digital services urging the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC to avail it of more spectrums that will enable them to play optimally in the Countries digital mobile industry. The sector has contributed very well to the GDP of the country and has shown remarkable resilience in this recession..

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