Worried about the possible economic lockdown in Nigeria, in an attempt to curtail the spread of the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19), telecoms operators under the aegis of Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), at the weekend, rose from an emergency meeting, where it took far-reaching decisions and made strong recommendations on how best to manage telecoms operations throughout the Coronavirus outbreak.
Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo who gave a rundown of the global effect of the Coronavirus that has claimed the lives of many people outside of Nigeria, said Nigerian government may likely declare partial or complete lockdown of its economy, like other economies of the world, following the recent measures taken by Federal Government to address the situation, like the closure of all schools and tertiary institutions in the country, suspension of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, placing travel ban on 13 countries, including US and UK, among others.
He said the fear of the possible lockdown of the economy, compelled ALTON to hold an emergency meeting in order to make recommendations to the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the federal and state governments on how best to ensure hitch-free telecoms services throughout the period of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Head, Corporate and Regulatory Services at Smile Communications, Mr. Thomas Gbolahan, joined other telecoms operators present at the meeting to make suggestions and recommendations, which formed part of the communique that was released after the meeting.
In the communique, which was made available to the media, members agreed that all telcos must be committed to increasing their network capacities to enable them provide quality service throughout the period of Coronavirus.
It was recommended that the industry regulator, the NCC, should facilitate the process of getting approval for Right of Passage (RoP) for all telecoms operators, from the federal and state governments, to allow for easy movement, should there be a partial or total lockdown of the economy as a result of Coronavirus.
Members also recommended that NCC should facilitate the process of Right of Passage (RoP) for logistics companies that are involved in supplies of goods and services to telecoms operators, in order to allow free movement in the event of economy lockdown resulting from the effect of Coronavirus.
According to the communique, telcos must also support government through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, to provide safety materials that will protect the public against Coronavirus effect.
They also suggested the need to sensitize the public about safety tips on Coronavirus in different languages, through the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and other channels.
ALTON recommended that government should establish a front desk at all Emergency Communication Centres (ECC), to provide information about Coronavirus.
Members equally urged NCC to seek support from law enforcement agents to protect telecoms facilities throughout the period of Coronavirus outbreak. They also suggested that NCC should consider stepping down Number Portability during the period of the Coronavirus outbreak in order to reduce pressure on networks, when subscribers tend to migrate from one network to another.
Members suggested that NCC should call on government agencies to put a stop to all government orders, directing the closure of telecoms sites, to enable the proper management of telecoms sites throughout the period of Coronavirus outbreak.
According to the communique, it was agreed that NCC and the state government should reduce the frequency of physical meetings all through the period of the Coronavirus outbreak and deploy alternative meeting platforms, in order to reduce the risk of contacting the Coronavirus during travels for meetings.
In the area of network sharing, the communique stated that members agreed that telecoms operators should collaborate to share resources among themselves in times of difficulties throughout the period that the Coronavirus will last.