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NCC Rouses Telecom Industry Competition With Implementation of Accounting Separation Framework

The Nigerian Communications Commissions (NCC) is committed to the creation of an enabling environment for competition among operators in the industry to ensure the provision of qualitative and efficient telecom services as stipulated in the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003.

In order to further ensure transparency and accountability with regards to effective regulation and prevention of anti-competitive behaviour, the NCC has commenced the implementation of the Accounting Separation Framework (ASF) in the Nigerian telecoms industry effective July 15, 2020

The policy document, “Determination on the Implementation of an Accounting Separation Framework for the Nigerian Telecoms Industry”, which was developed via a consultative process in 2015, has undergone a comprehensive review by the regulator in collaboration with telecoms licensees and other critical industry stakeholders.

With the commencement of the implementation of the framework, telecoms licensees are, henceforth, obligated to submit their Regulatory Financial Statement (RFS) to the Commission in line with the new ASF, within seven months after the end of the licensees’ financial year.

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC expressed optimism about the framework noting that “the new ASF will promote an industry environment that fosters open and transparent financial reporting while ensuring that charges for telecom services are cost-based and non-discriminatory.”

The Commission, however, stated that submission of RFS in line with the new framework is currently limited to and mandatory for only six telecom licensees, adding that this will subsist for an initial period of two years after which the regulator may review the list to include other operators.

The six licensees include Airtel Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited (9Mobile), Globacom Nigeria, Main One Cable Company Limited, and IHS Nigeria.

Adducing reasons for limiting compliance to six operators, the EVC said the decision was taken to ensure that a necessary structure is in place for reviewing and analysing the accounts before applying the new framework to all licensees in the industry.

Prof. Danbatta, however, stated that any other licensee willing to prepare its financial statements in line with the new framework is allowed to voluntarily do so, as the Commission may exercise its discretion to demand that a licensee prepare and submit separate account where it is determined that the activities of such a service provider are deemed critical to the overall well-being of the Nigerian telecoms industry.

Therefore, for full and effective implementation of the Framework, every operator under the ambit of accounting separation is required to prepare an Operator-specific Accounting Separation Manual (OASM) containing policies, principles, methodologies and procedures for accounting and cost allocation, which must be submitted to the Commission on or before October 30, 2020, for regulatory approval.

Licensees shall also be required to prepare their financial and non-financial reports in line with the Guidelines for the ASF while reports shall be furnished by the licensees for every accounting year beginning from the 2020 financial year-end.

Also, as part of operators’ licensing conditions, the Commission requires licensees to prepare, in respect of each complete financial year or of such lesser periods as may be specified, separated accounting statements for all their activities.

According to Prof. Danbatta, the Commission considers the Accounting Separation Framework as an effective, least evasive and less costly solution to implement in the quest to meet its regulatory objectives, adding that the implementation of the Framework is also a key deliverable for the Commission in the new National Broadband Plan (NBP), 2020-2025.

The EVC added that the Commission took into consideration inputs from industry stakeholders and has provided capacity-building for operators and for relevant staffs of the Commission to ensure seamless implementation of the Framework.

Prof. Danbatta further reiterated the commitment of the Commission towards continually developing policies, initiatives, and programmes aimed at boosting healthy competition among telecoms operators in the country to ensure that consumers continue to enjoy efficient and affordable telecom services.

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