Business-Friendly Environment Can Push Telcos to List on NSE—Airtel CEO
By Dipo Olowookere
In recent times, there have been concerns about telecommunication companies in Nigeria not being listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
In June 2015, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, said the National Assembly may have to compel multinational oil, gas and telcos to list a certain percentage of their value on the local bourse.
He contended that there was no justification for these firms not to be on the NSE.
In February this year, Minister of Communications Technology, Mr Adebayo Shittu, ordered all mobile telcos in the country to list their shares on the NSE or face sanctions.
But Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria, Mr Segun Ogunsanya, has stressed that telecom firms in Nigeria can successfully list on the NSE and contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of the country, barring challenges confronting operators in the sector.
According to him, an enabling business environment, policies that promote ease of doing business and market forces in line with best practices are key factors that can encourage operators to list on the Nigerian bourse.
Mr Ogunsanya made this submission while delivering his presentation entitled ‘Creating an Enabling Environment for Public Listing of the Economy’s Commanding Heights: The Case for Telecoms Sector’ at the 2017 Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) Annual National Workshop held in Abuja on Tuesday, July 4, 2017.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr Ogunsanya noted that following the liberalisation of the telecoms sector in 2001, the nation has benefitted in terms of employment creation, attraction of foreign direct investments and social-economic development.
“The sector currently accounts for 10 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and therefore makes it a critical national infrastructure.
“In addition, connectivity among Nigerians has been enhanced with the 145,350,702 active lines as at May 2017, investments in the sector as at Q1 2017 stood at $68 billion with FDI contribution amounting to $35 billion, while over 10,000 direct jobs and 1.3million indirect jobs have been created,” the Airtel chief executive said.
He stressed that telcos were committed to providing qualitative world class telecommunications services and in turn contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.
However, operators are still facing challenges which stifle growth and inhibit services delivery.
Mr Ogunsanya, therefore, urged government to address lingering industry issues such as multiple taxation, prohibitive right-of-way fees, broadband spectrum pricing/ availability among others.
Speaking further, the Airtel CEO noted that high interest rates are a major draw-back on use of debt financing, the fluctuation of foreign exchange rate has adversely impacted use of debt financing, while adverse market conditions occasioned by recession have adversely impacted viability of public equity alternatives.
The CIS Annual Workshop themed ‘Transition from Recession to Global Economic Power: A Working Template for Nigeria’ was a convergence of stakeholders in the nation’s financial services sector.
Present at the workshop were the Chief Executive Officer of the NSE, Mr Oscar Onyema; Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mallam Mounir Gwarzo; Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; among other top government functionaries, captains of industry and dignitaries.
The programme was organised in conjunction with the Nigerian Capital Market Institute, a training affiliate of SEC, the apex regulator of the Nigerian capital market.