Lending support to NCC’s drive in Nigeria’s digital frontiers

The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has no doubt made a milestone in the last five years. The achievements more than ever fast-tracked the liberalisation of Nigeria’s telecoms industry and gave a boost to the different sectors of Nigeria’s economy.

With innovations put in place by the Executive Vice Chairman led by Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Nigeria joined the flobal players pushing through at the frontiers of e-commerce, e-banking, e-agriculture, e-healthy, e-transportation, e-education, and so on.

Unarguably, the unprecedented growth recorded in the telecoms sector with a multiplier effect on other sectors of the economy has been as a result of the sound regulatory regime consolidated in the last 19 years.

The sector witnessed reviews in terms of providing frameworks, regulations, guidelines and policies to create enabling environment for the future of telecommunications’ growth in Nigeria, and pushing forward NCC’s primary mandate to connect Nigeria and promote universal access to e-activities.

No doubt the NCC has positioned telecoms as the baseline enabler for the realisation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 of government, which is a short-term economic blue print designed to drive the economic diversification agenda of the government.

Through deliberate and sustained efforts necessary regulatory interventions Prof. Danbatta’s team deepened access to telecommunications services, including voice and data across the country and positively impacted other sectors of the economy such as healthcare, education, agriculture, finance, transportation, commerce, governance, etc.

The telecoms sector, no doubt, have witnessed phenomenal growth in terms of the subscribers’ base, earnings to the government, increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), teledensity and increase in foreign direct investments.

According to available data, in the first quarter of 2020, the sector contributed 10.88 per cent to the GDP from 8.50 per cent in 2015. Active mobile voice subscribers have increased from 151 million in 2015 to over 196 million as at June 2020 with a teledensity of 102.88 per cent. Internet subscribers have grown from 90 million in 2015 to 143.7 million. Also, within the period under review, broadband penetration increased from 8 per cent 41.27 per cent, indicating that over 78.7 million subscribers are on broadband networks of 3G and 4G.

We also gathered that NCC is committed to driving ICT innovations in the academia and among technology innovators and thus increased the number of Operational Emergency Commission Centres (ECCs) to 18 states and the Federal Capital (FCT), Abuja, and successfully scrubbed over 28 million invalidly-registered subscriber records via Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) in line with the mandate to establish a credible database of telephone subscribers. It has further increased enforcement activities to nip cases of pre-registered SIM card sin the bud.

The AUTHORITY have observed that the agency also took measures recently towards regularising activities of all satellite operators, including space station operators as well as earth station operators and issuance of landing permits to space stations beaming signals over Nigerian territory, among others in order to deepen digital access across the country.

It has also embarked on initiatives, serving as digital fulcrum and catalyst that propel the inter-sectoral implementation of the socio-economic transformation agenda of the current government such as the licensing of infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to provide additional robust broadband infrastructure across the geo-political zones in the country.

No doubt, NCC has put deliberate emphasis on deepening broadband penetration has issued a standing directive that all new sites to be built by mobile network operators (MNOs) are Long Term Evolution (LTE)-compatible; insists on the implementation of the harmonised Right of Way (RoW) charges on state and federal governments’ highways at the cost of N145 per linear meter as well as the elimination of multiple taxation and regulations; and spread of 3G coverage to, at least, 80 per cent of the Nigerian population over the current 56.4 per cent of the population covered with 3G networks.

It is also ensuring the upgrade of 2G base transceiver stations (BTS) to 3G; spread of 4G/LTE services to 100 per cent of the population with a minimum broadband speed of 1.5 megabit per second (Mbps); deployment of, at least, an access point of fiber with a 10 gigabyte per second (Gbps) capacity in all the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the Federation through the InfraCo project.

We gather that NCC is currently working on the impending commercial deployment of 5G technology to ensure that Nigeria is not lagging behind in utilising innovative technologies that will drive the digital economic era.

We commend Prof. Danbatta and his team and enjoin them to soar even higher as the country needs its best foot forward always. Government should do all it can and encourage the NCC take Nigeria to what it should be among the comity in nations.

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