NCC boosts government’s revenue by N344.71bn, approves e-SIM trial for 2 telcos

*House of Representatives Committee urges NCC to sustain current template of ensuring effective regulation of telecoms industry to benefit industry players, telecom consumers and Nigerian Government

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As regards the telecoms regulator’s contribution to the Federal Government’s revenue, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has informed the House of Representatives’ Committee on Telecommunications that it generated and remitted N344.71 billion to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) in the last five years.

Prof. Danbatta disclosed this while briefing the Committee members, led by Hon. (Prince) Akeem Adeyemi as Chairman, at a recent legislative oversight function on the Commission.

The NCC in a statement by Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs, said Danbatta attributed the successes of the Commission in the last five years to the harmonious relationship between the Commission and the National Assembly (NASS).

Such a relationship, diligent oversight by the lawmakers, and necessary legislative support have brought forth a lot of dividends for the industry, stated the Commission’s EVC/CEO.

He disclosed that “through the support of the lawmakers, especially the House of Representatives Committee on Telecommunications, which the NCC leadership has worked with in the last five years, the Commission has been able to generate and remit N344.71 billion to Federal Government Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) from spectrum fees and operating surplus.”

According to him, telecoms sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from 8.5 percent in 2015 to 14.30 percent as of the second quarter of 2020.

In financial value, the 14.30 percent translates into N2.272 trillion in Q2, and telecoms investment grew from around $38 billion in 2015 to over $70 billion currently, said he.

Danbatta noted that the NCC is promoting financial inclusion by encouraging the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to actively participate in providing financial services towards actualising the Federal Government’s 80 percent financial inclusion target by 2020.

He stated through the collaboration of critical stakeholders as the National Assembly, the NCC has been able to increase broadband penetration from 6 percent in 2015 to 45.43 percent as of September, 2020, while basic active Internet subscription grew from 90 million to 143.7 million.

He added: “Between 2015 and September, 2020, active voice subscription has increased from 151 million to 205.25 percent million with a teledensity standing at 107.53 percent as at end of September, 2020.

“We are also empowering and protecting the consumers and ensuring we are able to sanitise the industry of improperly-registered Subscriber identification Module (SIM) cards through our impartial regulatory approach.”

Going forward, the NCC Chief listed key areas of collaboration with the House Committee.

According to him, these include speedy passage of the Commission’s budget, enhancing mutual working relationship and knowledge transfer sessions/capacity building for Committee members for better understanding of the workings of the Commission and the industry.

Meanwhile, Hon. Adeyemi, in his address, commended the leadership of the Commission for its transparency in ensuring remittances to CRF of the Federal Government.

The Committee urged the NCC to sustain its current template of ensuring effective regulation of the telecoms sector in a manner that would be more mutually beneficial to the industry players, the consumers of the telecoms services, and the Nigerian Government.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Communications Commission has granted approval for two mobile network operators (MNOs), MTN Nigeria and 9Mobile, to carry out trial on the workability of embedded Subscriber Identification Modules (e-SIM) Service in Nigeria.

Dr. Adinde in a statement also said the trial, approved to run for a period of a year, will involve testing 5,000 e-SIMs by the two networks, subject to compliance with a number of regulatory conditions.

According to the statement, these conditions include full compliance by the MNOs with the Registration of Telecoms Subscribers Regulations 2011; and the Mobile Number Portability Regulations and Business Rules 2015.

Others are Guidelines on SIM Replacement 2017; and non-degradation of the Quality of Service (QoS) experience by users of e-SIMs.

Danbatta stated that the primary objective of the e-SIM trial is to assess the technical performance of the e-SIM on telecoms service providers’ network towards eventual rollout, if satisfactory.

COnsumerConnect reports an e-SIM is a small chip that is embedded on a mobile phone or smart devices. It is designed for convenience, flexibility and simplicity.

The e-SIM makes it easier for subscribers to choose a pre-paid plan provider and switch between network operators.

The information on the e-SIM is rewritable by operators and the identification information can be updated over time.

The e-SIMs is a technology that will eliminate the need for physical SIM card slots on mobile devices in the near future, it noted.

The EVC/CEO disclosed that the trial is in line with the Commission’s forward-looking regulatory approach to ensure Nigeria’s telecoms ecosystem is in tandem with global best practices.

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