Nigeria’s National Lottery Regulatory Commission(NLRC) has issued a temporary ban to all Mobile service providers to postponed any SMS based lotteries they are running as the government gears up to mark 100 years of Independence later this year.
The Nigeria government plans to carry out Centenary games lottery courtesy of Mobile phones as part of the celebration since 1914 through SMS based promotion across all operating networks MTN, Airtel, Globacom, Etisalat and Visafone.
It is reported that the government had appointed Secure Electronic Technology Plc. (SET) as its centenary lottery operator. However the impact may be severe to telecom operators, according to personnel in the mobile industry all companies are set to lose billions of Naira since the sector has attracted many goodies in terms of rewards to loyal subscribers such as, luxury cars, aircraft and overseas trips.
The chairman, Association of Licenced Telecommunications Operators (ALTON), Engineer Gbenga Adebayo, told Leadership that the suspension imposed to telecom industry is commercial.
“If the federal government says that no operator should conduct SMS promos simply because they want to make money for the centenary celebrations, it is an avenue to deny subscribers of the various networks opportunities to communicate.”
He further noted that, “ In today’s advanced telecommunications world, mobile subscribers have freedom of association and freedom of choice. They have the freedom to communicate from the promotional lotteries offered them by mobile operators. What government is simply doing is to deny them those rights to choice and associate. The federal government’s decision goes beyond commercial decision. It is denying the operators one of their means of livelihood.’’
According to last year Nigeria-Mobile-Market-Overview-Statistics-and-Forecasts research Nigeria is Africa’s largest mobile market with more than 110 million subscribers, and yet market penetration stands at only around 70%. The number of subscribers hastened again in 2012 as a result of lower prices and a growing demand for mobile broadband services.
However the rapid growth has led to problems with network congestion and quality of service, prompting the regulatory authority NCC to impose fines and sanctions. Every year the network operators are investing billions of US$ into additional base stations and fibre optic transmission to support the ever increasing demand for bandwidth. According to estimates, the number of cell sites in the country – currently around 20,000 – could more than triple in the coming years.