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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Juwah unveils six-point agenda

•Declares zero tolerance for non-compliance

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Eugene Juwah has unveiled a six-point agenda expected to moderate his tenure as the helmsman of the commission.

He was quick to declare his regime’s zero tolerance for non-compliance of regulatory directives.

Addressing newsmen in Lagos at the weekend, he said that the agenda would form his leadership strategies to guide major focus of short, medium and long term actions, programmes and projects during his tenure.

Juwah noted that NCC in the last 10 years was directed at growing teledensity with the massive deployment of mobile telephony, which resulted in an impressive statistics of over 80 million active lines and more than 110 million connected lines.

“Teledensity is now above 53 per cent. It is safe, therefore, to say we have achieved appreciable voice mobile telephony penetration,” he declared.

Hence, he said, NCC would be working towards sustaining this growth, but the next five years, under his leadership and regulation will focus on six key areas, namely consolidation and integration of mobile wireless services; fixed line and broadband deployment for national development; and enhanced competitive market as well as choice for the consumers.

Additionally, Juwah outlined three other areas of focus to include vigorous compliance monitoring and enforcement of regulations and directions, national connectivity for accelerated growth, enhanced international relations.

Speaking further on consolidation and integration of mobile services, he said, currently mobile networks in Nigeria are not fully optimized.

“The nation can derive more value from an enhanced and optimized mobile network, especially with an improved Quality of Service,” he said, stressing that the Commission would encourage the upgrade of mobile networks to include Third Generation (3G) based data overlays for the implementation of application services including but not limited to mobile payment, estate agency and other entertainment services using the Internet as a plank.

“We want to achieve this by implementing the key performance indicators for quality of services that can be possibly monitored independently by the Commission with zero tolerance for non-compliance,” he asserted.

Equally, he said, such wireless network would also deliver enhanced and integrated services to such other national projects such as the Emergency Communications Centres being implemented by the Commission in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

On fixed lines and broadband deployment for national development, Juwah pointed out that Nigeria missed a great opportunity due to her inability to massively deploy fixed lines when other development-focused nations of the world did.

“While it is true that mobile phone has attained high penetration and usage, for many homes, businesses and companies, there still exist a yawning need for basic fixed line access with its numerous advantages,” he said, underscoring the fact that the premium nature of mobile services contributes to the issue of its affordability compared with fixed lines.

This, Juwah said, has led to some despair in many circles about the ability of this nation to catch up with the robustness of a fixed network complemented by mobile.

And as a matter of deliberate focus, NCC has decided to bring fixed lines back to homes, schools, offices, and businesses, highlighting that to achieve this, plans for massive deployment of broadband infrastructure will be explored by the Commission.

“We are therefore currently working out the details on how to implement this desirable project which would bequeath the nation with an accomplished and robust telephone network for national development,” he said.

As a result of this, he said Nigerians should expect more licenses coming out from the Commission, while investors are being informed of new opportunities that the Nigerian market presents.

On the enhanced competitive market and choices for the consumer, the NCC boss told newsmen that there is need to improve the competition in the market place today.

“Competition brings about the best in all the operators. Competition also breeds best atmosphere for the consumer,” he said, maintaining that enhancing competition in the market and availability of choice is a statement of intention to fight for the interest of the consumer.

“Cost has always been the greatest complaint of the average consumer in Nigeria,” he acknowledged.

While on the vigorous compliance monitoring and enforcement of regulations and directions, Juwah said NCC has observed a major lapse in the disposition of the service providers towards compliance to regulations or directions issued by the Commission.

“This is as a result of a combination of factors, including sanctions for none compliance that are not commensurate to the degree of breach. This is prevalent in spite of the fact that same service providers are fully consulted during the processes of formulation of the regulations,” he explained.

He sounded a note of warning that it would no longer be business as usual as the NCC moves into the next phase of regulation with emphasis on compliance.

“The Commission under us will give a lot of emphasis on compliance monitoring and strict enforcement of extant regulations and directions. Since these regulations were products of wide consultation, it is incumbent on the Commission to see to their full compliance,” he asserted.

On his agenda on national connectivity for accelerated growth, Juwah hinted that one of the key milestones in the measurement of the attainment of the vision statement of the Commission is in the reduction of distance to access to telecommunications services for every Nigerian.

“Achieving national connectivity through deployment of fibre rings across the nation and cascading broadband and ICT infrastructure will form our road map in promoting availability and access for national economic and social development,” he said.

Juwah further said, under his administration, would give more expression to international relations and interactions, saying he hopes the benefit of this focus would translate in the attraction of investments, projects and good image to the country.

To this extent, he said, NCC at the recent 10th Plenipotentiary Meeting in Mexico, had a session with the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Dr. Hamadoun Toure, for the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) located in Abuja and campuses scattered across the country to be conferred the status of Centre of Excellence.

He submitted that the aforementioned is not by any means the complete portfolio of his focus in the coming years, adding that the role of NCC is to advise government on major issues in telecommunications and ICT development as pertains to the country.

“We shall continue to work with government as a major stakeholder,” he pledged.

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