Bharti Airtel: Nigerian taxes on telecoms ‘too high’

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Telecoms firms were unfairly taxed in Nigeria because the industry supported other areas of the economy, Sunil Mittal, the billionaire chairman of India’s largest cellular network operator, Bharti Airtel, said last week. “The taxes are very high. That needs to come down,” Mittal said in an interview in Abuja, where he was attending the World Economic Forum on Africa. “If telecoms are seen as a rightful infrastructure for the growth of many other sectors in the economy and the multiplier force, then it doesn’t deserve to be taxed so high.” Bharti, which competes with MTN and Emirates Telecommunications in Africa’s most populous country, was seeing a recovery in Nigeria after a sales decline last year because of changes to interconnect charges, he said. The company was among carriers that were banned from selling new SIM cards in March after missing service quality goals. “We are seeing growth coming back. The last quarter versus the fourth quarter was reasonably good. I’m hopeful this year will be one of stabilisation.” Bharti operates in 17 African nations and Mittal said it had no plans to expand, . “We don’t have designs for expanding at the moment but in the countries that we operate we are strengthening our position.” Nigeria remained a long-term market for the firm, he said. – Bloomberg

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