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

Telecoms at 20: NCC highlights next frontiers for industry growth

*The Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, and others receive awards as the Commission says the telecoms sector, in the last two decades, has witnessed significant growth in subscribers, Internet usage, investments, innovation, contribution to GDP, and multiplier effects in other sectors of the economy

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As Nigerian stakeholders commemorate 20 years of telecoms revolution in the West African country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has clearly identified key initiatives being implemented to consolidate the growth and gains of the vital sector of the economy.

ConsumerConnect reports Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Offcer (EVC/CEO) of the Commission, outlined the digital frontiers while delivering a paper titled: ‘Telecommunications in Nigeria: The Next Frontier’ at the 20th Anniversary of the telecommunications revolution in Nigeria.

Compact Communications Limited organised the commemorative event at the Muson Centre, in Lagos, recently.

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The telecoms sector regulatory Commission on the occasion received a recognition award “in appreciation of its institutional support to the growth and development of telecoms in Nigeria”.

Similarly, Prof. Danbatta received a separate award “in appreciation of his immense contribution to the growth and sustenance of telecoms development in Nigeria.”

Other individuals bestowed with recognition awards at the event include former President Olusegun Obasanjo; and Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, ex-EVC/CEO of NCC, both for pioneering the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) revolution in the country 2001.

Represented at the forum by Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Danbatta said in the last 20 years, the sector had witnessed significant growth in subscribers, internet usage, investment, innovation, contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and multiplier effects of the growth in other sectors of the economy.

The NCC EVC/CEO also stated that in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, NCC is driving new frontiers aimed at ensuring consistent growth of the digital economy ecosystem in the country.

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As a foremost telecommunications regulatory agency, and consistent with NCC mandate as stipulated in the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, and other guiding legislations, the NCC has been at the forefront of leveraging latest technologies and accelerating broadband infrastructure deployment to put Nigeria on the global map of the digital economy experience, said Danbatta.

In this regard, he said the NCC was working to ensure increased Broadband penetration in line with Federal Government’s targets, as contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Pan (NNBP), 2020-2025.

It is recalled Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari activated the NNBP 2020-2025  March 2020.

Danbatta further explained that the NNBP has a target to achieve 70 percent Broadband penetration among 90 percent of the country’s population.

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The Plan, the EVC/CEO stated, also seeks to achieve Broadband speeds of 15Mbp and 25Mbps in rural and urban areas respectively over the next five years.

Danbatta said: “The Commission is also driving various initiatives aimed at facilitating the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) Mobile Technology in Nigeria.”

The Commission stressed that a robust Broadband infrastructure will play a key role in fast-tracking the effective deployment of 5G technology and facilitate availability of services associated with 5G networks in Nigeria.

Danbatta also stated: “Already, the Commission is set to auction some spectrum slots in 3.5GHz band and we have confirmed 97 percent readiness for 5G deployment in this regard.

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“This is in line with the marching order given to us by Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), following approval by the Federal Executive Council to proceed on our 5G Deployment Plan.

“The Information Memorandum (IM) for the auction had earlier been shared with stakeholders and we are set to auction the 5G spectrum before the end of the year,” he said.

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According to Danbatta, one of the initiatives being emplaced by the Commission to enhance the attainment of the next frontiers for telecoms development in Nigeria and the country’s economic growth, is the ongoing review of licensing structure in the sector.

“This is to align telecoms licensing process with the wide range of technological advances, convergence of technologies and services shaping global telecoms space,” said he.

He as well noted that the Commission has also finalised review of its Spectrum Trading Guidelines (STG).

The STG, according to the EVC, allows spectrum resource in-country to be traded on the Secondary Market through Transfer, Sharing or Leasing (TSL) once the stipulated regulatory conditions have been complied with.

Danbatta declared that NNBP 2020-2025 requires that these Guidelines be reviewed to ensure that unutilised spectrum is fairly traded to facilitate rollout by other telecoms operators among others.

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The Guidelines, the NCC EVC/CEO said, therefore, will facilitate the country’s yearning for ubiquitous Broadband access in line with the economic agenda of the Federal Government.

As vehicles for implementation of the NNBP, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020-2030) and other similar digital economy policies, Danbatta noted the NCC has unveiled its Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024 and the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2021-2025, which will ultimately drive the next frontier of growth in the telecoms sector.

The two strategic plans embody critical areas on which the Commission intend to focus toward driving the implementation of the digital economy agenda of the government.

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He stated that the two regulatory documents (the SMP and SVP) encapsulate the totality of regulatory and policy initiatives, designed to re-invent and transform the telecom ecosystem, within the context of regulation, to a greater height. He added that this, to the Commission, is the next frontier for the sector.

“While emerging technologies are disruptive by nature, Nigeria cannot afford to lag behind digitally and this explains Commission’s engagement with developmental regulations for the industry and we are irrevocably committed to this,” Danbatta said.

Zenith Bank Plc also received an award for being at the forefront of leveraging technology for powering financial services delivery.

Mr. Aaron Ukodie, a veteran ICT journalist and Publisher of e-World News, was among the media professionals who received awards on the occasion.

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