Foreign exchange released for communication services by the Central Bank of Nigeria declined despite a clamor from the telecommunication sector for more foreign exchange.

the punch observed that between January and August 2018 and the same period in 2022, there was a decrease of $35.29 million or 26.95 percent in the official currencies spent on communication services in the country.

Data was obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria under the sectoral use for transactions valid for foreign exchange.

The CBN had only provided data up to August 2022 at the time of filing this story.

Between January and August 2018, The PUNCH noted that the amount of currency released was $130.95 million.

A breakdown showed that $21.62 million was released in January 2018, $10.70 million in February, $12.91 million in March, $12.73 million in April, $16.47 million in May, $15.07 million in June, $15.92 million in July and $25.53 million in August.

However, in the same period last year, it had fallen to $95.66 million. the punch noted that $18.05 million were released in January 2022, $8.65 million in February, $12.39 million in March, $19.55 million in April, $7.50 million in May, $10.35 million in June, $11. 17 million in July and $8 million in August.

In August 2018, former Communications Minister Mr. Adebayo Shittu said that the ministry was collaborating with the CBN to put the information, technology and communications sector on the forex priority list.

However, in January last year, it was reported that the sector had been added to the priority list.

It was noted that with CBN’s foreign exchange priority, MTN, Airtel, Glo and other operators would be able to access enough dollars to import important equipment for fifth generation deployment and enhance other foreign exchange related activities.

In an interview with The PUNCH last year, the president of the Nigerian Association of Licensed Telecom Operators, Gbenga Adebayo, said the CBN decision meant telcos could access adequate foreign exchange to meet their international obligations. and also invest in infrastructure.

He said: “We are grateful to CBN for this list, for priority consideration. We also thank the minister for his intervention in this regard.

“This will allow players to meet our international obligations. As you know, international traffic is exchanged with foreign countries, so that operators can comply with their obligations (with equipment providers and bandwidth providers), all those activities that support the industry are denominated in foreign currency.

“The other thing is that it allows the acquisition of equipment. Facilitates the acquisition of software and hardware. It will help the development of the sector. Also, now that we are talking about the launch of 5G, gamers will have better access. It is for the good of all, we are grateful to the authorities for making this happen.

According to an ALTON source, telcos were given priority access as a result of engagements with the Federal Government through the Nigerian Communications Commission, the minister who oversees the sector, and the office of the National Security Adviser.

However, despite this, it appears that telcos are still struggling to access the foreign exchange they need.