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How NCC promotes local investments in infrastructure, competition for telecoms growth in Nigeria ─Danbatta

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of NCC

*The Nigerian Government through activation of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 encourages indigenous investments and production of telecommunications equipment, components and software to meet local and export demands

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As the concept is fast gaining momentum in economies around the world, it is imperative for the Nigerian Government to continue to support the citizenry to participate actively in the exploitation and transformation of their indigenous resources into goods and services aimed at national economic growth and development.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), stated this in his keynote address at a maiden Virtual Policy Implementation Assisted Forum event (PIAFo) on the National Policy for Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector Thursday, August 12, 2021.

ConsumerConnect reports the Business Metrics Nigeria organised the virtual maiden edition of forum with the theme, “Facilitating Policy Implementation to Deliver Value in the Nigerian Telecoms Sector”.

Prof. Danbatta, in his presentation at the forum titled, “Establishing Rules And Laws For The Effective Implementation Of Local Content Promotion Policy In The National Telecoms Sector”, disclosed the country’s telecoms regulator considers stakeholder engagement and consultation as a key strategic regulatory approach.

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The NCC EVC and CEO noted that the success story of the telecommunications sector in Nigeria is largely attributable to the wide consultations and engagements employed at every step of the sectors journey.

He described indigenous content policy as “any policy that encourages the development of indigenous skills, technology transfer, use of indigenous manpower, and indigenous manufacturing” in the economy.

According to Danbatta, with advancements in technology, administrations the world over have come to recognise the need for their indigenes to participate actively in the exploitation and transformation of their local resources into goods and services targeted aimed at economic growth.

He stated that the advent of local content in the country’s telecoms ecosystem is probably as old as the Nigerian telecoms revolution itself.

“The National Telecommunications Policy posited that the domestic production of telecommunications hardware and software is desirable for national development.

“It further states that, government shall encourage domestic production of telecommunications equipment, components and software to meet local and export demands,” said he.

Danbatta further said that in giving legal backing to the above policy direction in the sector, the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 identifies as one of its primary objects the encouragement of local and foreign investments in the Nigerian communications industry.

Thus, with the steady evolution of telecommunications in the West African country, he explained that the industry and its infrastructure are appreciated as the infrastructure of infrastructure, positioned to drive growth and efficiency in every other sector (both private and public) by supporting the optimisation of institutions and processes in the ecosystem.

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“Accordingly, the development of effective local participation at all levels of the value chain becomes a sine-qua-non to the overarching national economic development and market success,” he stated.

NCC’s efforts at advancing local investments in digital infrastructure and competition

In his address at the forum Thursday, Prof. Danbatta also offered updates on indigenous content valorisation in the Nigerian telecoms industry.

He recalled the Federal Government recently reinforced the local content agenda by putting in place Executive Order 003 of 2017 and Executive Order 005 of 2018 titled, “Support for Local Content in Public Procurement by the Federal Government” and “Development of Local Content in Science, Engineering and Technology” respectively.

The NCC Chief Executive said the Commission had instituted several measures and strategies towards ensuring the industry’s compliance with the aforementioned Executive Orders.

These, he noted, include building local capacity through various initiatives and innovations which are aimed at encouraging digital skills and entrepreneurship as well as building local infrastructure.

Danbatta said: “The NCC is vigorously promoting local investment in digital infrastructure and competition in the provision of accessible high speed broadband infrastructure.

“This will, in turn, enable the Commission to deliver on the stipulated targets in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025.”

According to him, in achieving the mandate, the Commission has developed a licensing framework in order to enable Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to roll out optical fibre cables for communications in the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) that make-up the Nigerian Federation.

The NCC as well ensures full utilisation of spectrum for deployment of services through Re-farming, Re-planning and Auctioning, he stated.

Similarly, the EVC said President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, presented the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content (NPPIC) in the Nigerian Telecom Sector recently.

He disclosed that the policy seeks to fast-track the pace of indigenous digital capacity development and thereby enhance national competitiveness and prosperity for indigenous/local players in the country.

He also noted that in the policy document, there are clearly defined objectives identified for each focus area with expected significant impact that a concerted implementation will have on the sector in particular and the national economy in general.

Meanwhile, has stated that the telecoms regulatory Commission has developed an action plan to help guide the implementation of the policy.

He noted that the NCC has articulated several targets and high-impact interventions, which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based to address the major policy areas.

The focus policy areas, Danbatta stated, are manufacturing, software development, compliance monitoring, licensing, funding, people, and research & development for digital innovation and entrepreneurship.

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He, therefore, assured the industry stakeholders and consumers, that the NCC is “wholly committed to realising the vision of Mr. President for promoting indigenous content in the telecommunications sector as has been done in the Agricultural and Petroleum sectors to achieve our goals of significant participation, preservation of scarce foreign exchange and improving the lives of Nigerians.”

So, to ensure effective implementation of these objectives, Danbatta disclosed that the Commission is developing a robust compliance monitoring and enforcement framework leveraging on existing mechanisms.

Quoting President Buhari’s words on the current administration’s commitment to local content development in Nigeria, the NCC EVC said: “… we want Nigerians to play a major role in the design and manufacture of devices, in meeting the manpower requirements and in becoming an active part of the telecommunications ecosystem of the country.”

Why PIAFo forum in Nigeria ─Organisers

Earlier in his welcome address at the forum, Mr. Omobayo Azeez, Chairman, Organising Committee of Policy Implementation Assisted Forum (PIAFo) said the Forum is a brainchild of concerns arising from perceived poor implementation of policies in Nigeria.

Mr. Azeez stated that PIAFo is in line with the current administration’s commitment to ensuring that Nigerians become active participants in the sectors of the country’s economy.

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He said: “This forum, therefore, has been designed by the Business Metrics Nigeria Team to take the promises of the indigenous content policy in the telecoms sector beyond verbal commitment.

“We believe we can only achieve objectives of the policy by creating active dialogue around it to ensure that individual stakeholders understand how they fit into the bigger picture and what role is expected of them to attain these objectives for the greater good of our economy.”

He added that the Forum marked the birth of a new initiative and addition to the mechanism of policy implementation in the country.

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