The House of Representatives has voted on a motion to investigate the usage of the universal service provision fund (USPF), a fund that comprises 2.5% of the annual turnover of MTN Nigeria, Airtel and other mobile telecommunication network operators.
USPF is managed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to build infrastructure in the underserved and unserved areas in Nigeria.
The lower chamber on Thursday said network providers were reluctant to move to the rural areas owing to business considerations, which indicates the NCC hasn’t been operating in line with its obligation to the USPF.
This was disclosed by a lawmaker, Sergius Ogun, who moved a motion to probe the inflow into the USPF and the usage of the fund obtained from network providers since the inception of the USPF.
According to Ogun, this has resulted in poor network service as the telcos are not motivated to operate in remote areas.
While tabling his motion on Thursday, Ogun said: “The NCC is expected to utilise the funds generated from the contributions of mobile telecommunication network operators for implementing universal access strategy and programme by federal government’s policy,” he said.
“The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on its own, decided to contribute 40 percent of the fund generated from the 2.5 percent annual turnover from mobile telecommunication network operators translating to 1 percent of the annual turnover of the operators to the USPF, a practice common throughout Africa.
“The USPF is to be used to build infrastructure in the underserved and unserved areas of Nigeria, which can subsequently be made available to the mobile telecommunication network operators, who will, in turn, utilise such infrastructure in serving the areas that are hitherto underserved and unserved.
“The first major infrastructure project attempted by the NCC in this regard was the emergency response system (ERS), which led to the construction of emergency communications centres all over the country, with little or no results, even though the contract was awarded in millions of US dollars with annual fiscal appropriations for the said project.
“The inability of the NCC to utilise the USPF to promote the widespread availability and usage of network services and applications throughout Nigeria as enshrined in section 112 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2004, is a great disservice to the nation.”
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