By Ada Okafor
The Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has called for the adoption of more innovative Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach to attract Foreign Direct Investment and safeguard telecoms infrastructure in the country.
He made the call at the 2021 Virtual Conference and Exhibition on Information Communication Technology and Telecommunications (ICTEL) organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCT).
In his key note address at the conference themed: ‘Disruptions, Resilience and Governance in Digital Economy’, the NCC boss decried the persistent challenges in the telecom system despite the various PPP interventions being undertaken by the government and similar initiatives at the Commission.
“These include multiple taxation and regulation, Right of Way (RoW) issue, vandalism, poor electricity supply, and lately worsening insecurity. All of these factors affect both the tempo and quality of infrastructure rollout by the private sector licensees, who are the main engine of growth in the telecom sector. These challenges also affect the quality of telecom services and by extension the Quality of Experience (QoE) of telecom consumers.”
Danbatta gave the assurance that the Commission will continuously engage relevant stakeholders, to ensure that appropriate infrastructure befitting a modern digital economy system is available in the country to deepen government’s determination and commitment to total digital transformation of services in the country.
“The role of public-private partnership in infrastructure development in Nigeria cannot be over emphasised because an adequate, robust and functioning infrastructure is the bedrock of communal and societal development.
“Therefore, to meet future challenges, our industries and infrastructure must be upgraded by evolving an enduring PPP model that services all the sectors of the economy.
“Objectively, the high level of infrastructure deficit and its attendant effect on socio-economic development in Nigeria explains government’s concern and search for an alternative means of providing infrastructure for the Nigeria’s teeming population”, he said.
The NCC boss further averred that the Commission has engaged in a number of PPP engagement through Initiatives such as Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF), a multi-sectoral committee of private and public sector institutions whose collaboration with the Commission has bolstered Commission’s determination to continually improve on all principles of protection of telecoms consumers from an array of service challenges as well as incidences of frauds and other associated risks of online transactions.
While lauding the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) for its consistency in organising ICTEL despite the challenges imposed by the raging pandemic, he reiterated the Commission’s continued support.
He noted that the NCC had in November 2020, created a ‘PPP Unit’ as a division under its Special Duties Departmen in concrete expression of belief in the centrality of PPP principles.
“The Unit is overseeing the implementation of the NCC’s revenue assurance solutions (RAS) as well as the Device Management System (DMS) project.
“The two projects are being implemented in collaboration with private sector players. While the RAS is intended to address the revenue leakages accruable to the government, through the NCC; the DMS is intended to address the issue of type approval of telecom equipment and devices to ensure originality and standardisation because of the implication of substandard devices for health and quality of service.
“The DMS is also instituted to tackle the problem of SIM boxing and call masking, which not only constitutes threat to national security but also a mark of anti-competitive practice in the telecoms sector and a basis for loss of revenue in tax remittances to the government”, he said.