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Regulator assures Broadband penetration on fast-track, highlights achievements in telecoms

L-R: Mr. Reuben Muoka, Director of Public Affairs st NCC; Aminu Garko, Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Kano Chapter; Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services at NCC; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC; Aisha Abdulmalik, Head of Women and Children Department, Nasara Radio; and Nafiu Yahaya, Head of Station, Rahma Radio/TV Abuja, During an Interactive Session with Media Stakeholders in Kano, Kano State      Photo: NCC

*Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of the Nigeria’s telecoms sector regulatory Commission presents his scorecard at a media forum in Kano, and explains how the industry has ‘witnessed explosive growth, improved regulatory standards, and digital innovations’ under his leadership of the Commission since 2015

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has assured telecoms service consumers that its national target of 70 percent Broadband penetration by 2025 is receiving renewed attention with a 50 percent attainment before the end of 2023.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, stated this as one of the highlights of his special media chat with Executive Editors and media chiefs in the Northern part of the country.

The telecoms sector regulatory Commission Sunday, September 17, 2023, disclosed Prof. Danbatta had organised the forum in Kano, Kano State, to present his stewardship and unveil his achievements since resumption of office as the Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of NCC from 2015 till date.

On Strategic Vision Plan (SVP), Broadband deployment and penetration

Mr. Reuben Muoka, Director of Public Affairs, noted Danbatta, on the occasion, informed the media chiefs about the Fifth Generation (5G) services, which he stated had already hit half a million subscriptions, how the various efforts of the Commission at improving Broadband penetration are yielding fruitful results with the current figures estimated at 47.01 percent as of July 2023.

Using the extant reviewed five-pillar Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) as a building block, the EVC/CEO of NCC, spoke to 119 milestones achieved under the five strategic pillars, including regulatory excellence, universal Broadband, market development, digital economy and strategic collaboration.

Danbatta said through effective implementation of NCC’s mandates under his leadership and cooperation of internal and external stakeholders since 2015, telecommunications industry in Nigeria has achieved remarkable milestones under our leadership.

Danbatta also said: “While we acknowledge the challenges encountered by the industry, we have also witnessed explosive growth, improved regulatory standards, and digital innovations that have garnered global recognition.”

Reeling off impressive statistics that have characterised his leadership at the NCC from 2015 to date, he also announced that active telephone subscribers had increased from less than 150.7 million to 218.9 million, representing a teledensity growth of 115.70 percent from 107.87 percent in 2015.

In accelerating Broadband infrastructure across the country, Danbatta said Broadband penetration, which stood at six percent in 2015, had increased significantly to 47.01 percent as of July this year, as it has enhanced over 89.73 million subscriptions on 3G, 4G and 5G networks in Nigeria.

According to Danbatta, general Internet subscriptions have reached 159.5 million, up from less than 100 million in 2015.

The EVC/CEO further noted: “Also, from 8 percent contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015, telecommunications sector now contributes 16 percent quarterly to the Nigerian economy as of the second quarter of 2023.

“Besides, following the authorisation of more telecommunications companies to operate in the Nigeria’s telecoms sector, the investments profile has increased tremendously from $38 billion in 2015 to $75 billion currently, and this keeps growing daily.

From the sales of Fifth Generation (5G) C-Band Spectrum, the NCC has generated over $847.8 million for the Federal Government.”

Other milestones, initiatives recorded in telecommunications industry

Under Danbatta’s leadership as the icon of digital transformation in the Nigerian economy, the EVC/CEO has received a gallery of awards nationally, regionally and globally in recognition of the outstanding performance of telecoms industry with several achievements recorded since 2015.

He stated: “Other milestones and initiatives recorded aside from the regulatory activities that culminated in the landmark launch of 5G services in Nigeria include the introduction of Spectrum Trading Guidelines, re-farming and re-planning certain spectrum band for efficiency, the emplaced collaborative process for the release of C-Band Spectrum by Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited, and introduction of the Expanded Revenue Assurance Solution (ERAS) to address revenue leakages and improve government revenue from the telecoms industry.

“These initiatives also include Licensing of Satellite Earth Stations, issuing of operating licence to SpaceX Satellite, facilitating the landing of additional submarine Cables, such as the Google 2,000km Equiano subsea Internet cable in 2022, listing of MTN on the Nigerian bourse, licensing of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), introduction of new unlicensed millimeter wave spectrum, and regulation of white space spectrum.”

As part of NCC’s commitment under Danbatta’s leadership, the Director of Public Affairs also noted the Executive Vice-Chairman said that the Commission had endowed professorial chairs in Nigerian universities and committed over N500 million Naira to Research and Development (R&D) in the telecoms sector.

Danbatta further explained: “The creation of the Digital Economy Department, the mandate to drive the implementation of the indigenous telecoms sector growth through the operation of the Nigeria Office for Developing Indigenous Telecom Sector (NODITS), are also important strides made by the Commission.”

NCC’s consumer protection initiatives and programmes

Danbatta as well mentioned other impactful  consumer-focused initiatives and programmes of the Commission have also centered on the establishment of Emergency Communications Centres (ECCs) in over 30 states of the Federation and the FCT.

All these centres are operational, as well as the creation of the Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), he said.

According to him, these two initiatives have been helping consumers to get succour in times of emergencies as well as ensuring effective protection for telecoms consumers while online.

As the NCC avowed core mandate, Danbatta said that the Commission had also taken very clear actions on consumer protection, advocacy, information-sharing and education.

He stated “these include introduction of data roll-over just before the expiration of subscribed data plans, introduction of the 622 toll-free number for lodging service-related complaints to the Commission, the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code for tackling the menace of unsolicited text messages,  elimination of forceful/deceitful subscriptions to telecom services on mobile networks, tackling the issue of call masking, ensuring effective Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) registration, launching of National Roaming service and reduction of access gaps to telecoms services from over 217 to 97, thereby enhancing access to telecom services by more Nigerians.”

Despite these proactive  measures to ensure telecoms consumers’ wellbeing in the ecosystem, Danbatta said while the industry still faces a number of challenges, including vandalism, securing equitable Right of Way (RoW) from governmental stakeholders, as well as multiple taxation and regulation, the Commission has put framework in place to work with necessary stakeholders to overcome the obstacles posed by these challenges and to sustain the growth trajectory.

Danbatta averred this apparent growth trajectory in the ecosystem has been the “hallmark of telecoms sector as an enabler of socio-economic development in Nigeria.”

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