The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has expressed satisfaction with the decision of President Bola Tinubu to unify Nigeria’s multiple exchange rates in order to strengthen the Naira.

The Executive Secretary of ATCON, Mr. Ajibola Olude, who stated this in a media chat said, if implemented, a unified exchange rate will ease the burden of sourcing for forex by telecom operators.

According to him, currently, telecom operators buy dollars from the black market, which is very expensive.

He noted that because of the high exchange rate, telcos end up using the money meant to buy multiple pieces of equipment to buy just one.

Olude said that unifying the exchange rate would allow easy access to forex at equal rates for all players in the economy.

Nigeria adopted the multiple exchange-rate regimes to avoid an outright devaluation of the naira by keeping a stronger pegged rate for official transactions and weaker exchange for non-government related transactions.

Reacting to the President’s advice to the Central Bank on its monetary policy, Olude urged the new administration to push for a single-digit interest rate, noting that the current 18.2 percent interest rate is killing businesses.

He also explained that the banks usually give out loans at 30 percent interest, which was higher than the actual rate.

According to him, this is crippling innovation and development in the telecom industry.

Olude also urged the CBN to create a special fund for the telecom industry through commercial banks.

“This way, it will be easier for us to access loans at the same rate they give to other sectors. This gesture has already been extended to the agricultural sector, and the telecommunications industry has also become part of the ecosystem. CBN should open a window for our members to access loans and forex,” he said.

On broadband, Olude said the new administration should work toward realizing the 70 percent target set in the National Broadband Plan 2020–2025. He said that as of March, broadband penetration was around 48.2 percent, noting that the country had two and a half years to achieve the plan’s targets.

He said the new administration should not only work toward meeting the target but also try to surpass and increase it.

Olude said he believed that the current president was proactive and would explore private investors to achieve the 70 percent target.

He added that to further elevate the industry, the new administration must listen to relevant stakeholders on issues that have to do with the telecom and ICT sectors.

In his inaugural address on Monday, Nigeria’s newly elected President Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared his government’s decision to unify the exchange rate, replacing the previous multiple exchange rate regime implemented by the central bank during the administration of former President Buhari.

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