ByÂ Emeka Aginam
The Chairman of the House of Representativesâ€™ Committee on Communications, Honourable Dave Salako whileÂ Â frowning at the regime of multiple taxes imposed on telecommunications operators by different levels of government in the country, hasÂ commendedÂ the management of Multi_links Telkom for its impressive service delivery in the country.
While commending the company for having the most competitive pricing and tariff offerings on its range of telecommunications products and services in the country, Salako however, noted that government had lost considerable revenue from the pioneer status granted operators in the wake of the telecommunications revolution in Nigeria in 2001.
Salako who whoÂ passed a vote of confidence on Multi_Links Telkom during an oversight visit to the Corporationâ€™s Headquarters, in Lagos, last week noted that he was impressed by the giant strides recently made by the company Multi_Links Telkom with respect to its ongoing integrated ICT solutions deployment in Nigeria.
He said the phenomenal growth in the network coverage of Multi_Links Telkom since its acquisition by Telkom SA in 2007 is a welcome developmentÂ adding that the quality of its network has been acknowledged by many users.
He assured Multi_Links of the willingness of the House of Representativesâ€™ Com-mittee on Communicationsâ€™ to partner Multi_Links Telkom and other operators to promote the growth of the Nigerian Communications industry.
According to him, â€œmajority of the Nigerians that I know who use Multi_Links phones have always paid tribute to the quality of your service delivery, and this is highly commendableâ€.
The Committee members who spoke in turns expressed delight with Multi_Links Telkom for the extensive work it has done with respect to infrastructure sharing including fibre swops and co_location with other operators including MTN amongst others.
Urging the company to turn such brand affinity to its advantage, the Committee said: â€œYou are doing well and you need to widen your coverage to other parts of the countryâ€.
The Committee members also urged operators including Multi_Links to take advantage of the closeness of the parliamentarians to the grassroots, their constituencies, to address daunting community issues confronting them. According to them, such intervention by the peopleâ€™s representatives is more likely to yield positive results quickly and more effectively in resolving issues such as vandalization, community and security issues as well as the imposition of illegal taxes by some communities.
While admitting that the poor power situation in the country has become an albatross in the delivery of quality service to telecommunications consumers, the Committee highlighted the Executiveâ€™s proposals to make available 6,000 megawatts of power by the end of 2009 assuring Multi_Links that the Legislature will engage and monitor it closely to ensure that it delivers on its proposal aimed at proffering a lasting solution to the current power challenge facing the Nigerian people.
Speaking further, he noted that the visit which was one of many to telecommunications operators, was in fulfillment of the Committeeâ€™s oversight function aimed at enabling its members have first hand understanding of the progress and challenges of the industry.
Meanwhile, in a presentation to the committee, the Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Multi_Links Telkom, Mr. Lawrence Hatting, said that the company would leverage its relationship with its partners namely AT&T Wireless, MWEB and Africa Online (AOL) to reposition the company as an integrated ICT solution provider to serve multi_nationals, SMMEs and the mass market in Nigeria and Africa using its network of links.
He notedÂ that in its drive to take service to other parts of the country, the company has made provision in its business plan for the year to take service to 58 towns/cities, noting that work was already going on at 24 of the new locations.
With about 2.5 million customers and an extensive transmission infrastructure in the country, Hatting informed the parliamentarians that the ability to drive the fibre deployment would ultimately influence the expansion to other locations in the country.
He said that competition rather than legislation would drive down the prices and tariff among operators.
He noted as well that the company has been partnering other service providers on bandwidth and tower sharing, with current statistics showing that Multi_Links has shared services in more than 400 locations in this new cost saving arrangement.
Multi_Linksâ€™ Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Mrs Ijeoma Abazie responding to various comments, questions and kind commendations of the Committeeâ€™s delegation on Multi_Linksâ€™ current coverage, the Chairmanâ€™s call for lower tariffs on Multi_Linksâ€™ network despite its current extremely competitive tariffs, thanked the Committee noting that the implementation and conclusion of Multi_Linksâ€™ network roll out plan for 2009 will significantly address its concerns regarding coverage and she advised that tariffs in the industry should be driven by competition.
Regarding Multi_Linksâ€™ challenges regarding increasing coverage all over Nigeria, Abazie informed the Committee that a significant challenge in Multi_Linksâ€™ planned expansion is with securing rights of way, site permits amongst others and that these significantly delay its expansion proposals.