Telecoms financing: All Nigerian network operators must meet integrity standards

Features & Reports

After collaborating with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on a loan repayment plan and
the appointment of an interim board of directors for Etisalat Nigeria, the board of the
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Thursday directed the commission to ensure that
all network operators in the country meet financial and technical integrity standards in
relation to telecoms financing.
Concerned about the debt crisis that threatened to hamper Etisalat’s operations, the NCC
board at the end of its meeting said the directive had become imperative in order to
avert unforeseen circumstances in the future.

In a statement signed by NCC spokesman, Mr. Tony Ojobo, the board said: “The board, under
the chairmanship of Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye held an emergency meeting on Wednesday,
July 5, 2017, to review the Etisalat issue in its entirety and also review the
intervention made by the NCC management.
“The board commended the NCC management for its handling of the Etisalat issue to date,
noting that the board has had a three-fold concern: ensuring continuous service to the
over 21 million Etisalat subscribers, safeguarding the employees, and stabilising the
telecoms sector to ensure its contribution to GDP is not impacted and investment
continues.
“The board commended the cooperation and inter-agency collaboration exhibited by the
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a fellow regulator.
“The board directed management to ensure at all times that telcos meet the financial and
technical integrity standards expected of them.”

Etisalat on Tuesday announced a new five-man interim board, following the resignation of
its former board members, former Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Matthew Willsher, and
former Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Olawole Obasunloye.
Their resignations were triggered by the withdrawal of one of its core investors –
Emirates Telecoms Group Company (Etisalat Group) – following Etisalat Nigeria’s inability
to repay a $1.2 billion loan taken from 13 Nigerian banks in 2013 for infrastructure
upgrade and expansion.
The new board appointed for Etisalat Nigeria, in conjunction with the lending banks, will
be expected to oversee the sale of the company’s shares relinquished by its Abu Dhabi-
based parent, Etisalat Group, to new investors.
THISDAY had exclusively reported last month that some of the network operators that had
indicated interest in taking a slice of Etisalat include South Africa’s Vodacom and
France’s Orange.