Telecommunication firms are now pressing banks for a staggering N200 billion owed for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services, revealed at the Nigerian Communications Commission industry interactive session. The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria emphasized that the debt, which has grown by about 66.67% this year, will not be forgiven, negatively impacting the financial technology economy. Despite ongoing discussions, the slow-paced negotiations may lead to further disruptions in the sector. The continued quagmire threatens digital financial inclusion, a vital aspect of improving financial services in the country.
In addition to the USSD debt issue, telecom operators highlighted their burden of paying 52 different taxes and levies, making them one of the most taxed sectors in the country. The increased taxes, up from just over 41, are impeding growth and affecting the quality of service. Telecom operators are calling for a review of the tax structure and improved cooperation from public actors in tax collection.
The new Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Aminu Maida, addressed the challenges faced by telcos, urging them to enhance the quality of service and experience for consumers. Despite the hurdles, Maida emphasized the need for innovation and announced ongoing discussions with original equipment manufacturers to boost job creation in the country.