Telcos in revolt over ‘recharge card’ scheme

23 Aug 2004

Several Nigerian telecoms operators have bitterly opposed plans by the industry regulator the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to license manufacturers of recharge cards.The federal government issued a ruling earlier this year banning the import of recharge cards from 31 December this year, however, the move has been opposed by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), acting on behalf of the operators. In a letter jointly signed by ALTON vice chairman Chief Adebayo Akande and executive secretary Engr. V K Fashola, the association has condemned the NCC’s move, citing the Telecom Act of 2003 in its argument and saying the regulator’s action was ultra vires. According to ALTON, ‘it is our understanding that under the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, the NCC only has authority to licence operators to provide communications services and operate communications facilities. From the definition under the Communications Act, the NCC’s authority does not extend to licensing or authorisation for recharge card production. In confirmation of this position, recharge card production is not included in the NCC’s licensing framework’. Furthermore, ALTON believes that the NCC does not have the necessary technical expertise to judge the ability of companies to provide cards.