Friday, February 05, 2016

NCC, GSMA to join forces on capacity building to grow mobile networks

The umbrella body for all mobile operators, equipment manufacturers, vendors in the telecommunications industry, the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), has opened talks with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on capacity building, and other sundry ways to attain an accelerated growth in the mobile sector, reports ITRealms.

The GSMA team led by the Director, Africa Region for GSMA, Mr. Mortimer Hope, said in Abuja that their visit was of dual purposes, stressing that besides introducing his team to the NCC, they came to discuss with the regulator on capacity building which GSMA members have great expertise.

“We are available always for capacity building that will boost mobile connectivity, improve data transmission, mobile money by breaking all the barriers inhibiting growth”. Mortimer said Nigeria is a very important market, hence the need for the report, ‘Digital Inclusion and the role of Mobile in Nigeria,’ which he submitted to the EVC.

The report, he said, was inspired by GSMA’s Digital Inclusion programme which supports the connection of an additional two billion people to the mobile internet by 2020.

Also, Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Tony Ojobo in a press statement made available to ITRealms quoted Mr. Hope as saying the programme focuses on working with mobile operators, development organisations and governments to address the barriers to mobile internet adoption through network infrastructure and policy, affordability and tax, digital literacy and local content.

Mortimer further said that knotty issues like multiple taxation, Quality of Service, right of way, among others are still a drawback to the expected growth of the sector.

Though, he bemoaned lack of spectrum for the mobile companies to effectively reach those underserved and unserved areas of Nigeria.

Responding, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta told his visitors that the Commission is already abreast with mobile inclusion and all of these are captured in the five year strategic plan of NCC, 2015-2020 enshrined in the 8-point agenda “which we unveiled recently and this is in line with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) strategy to increase mobile penetration through broadband”.

The EVC also told the visitors that Nigeria is aware of the massive ICT divide and “we are striving to bridge this through the National Broadband Plan (2015 – 2018) where penetration is likely to hit 30 per cent from its current level of 10 per cent”.

This strategy includes but not limited to improvement of Quality of Service (QoS), through massive deployment of broadband infrastructure especially in major cities to boost connectivity.

Danbatta said to achieve milestones, “we must begin now, hence we appreciate this relationship with GSMA”.

On the issue of Right of way, multiple taxation, Danbatta said “we have opened talks with the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and we are very positive of the results”.

On Spectrum, he said, “it is a scarce commodity but we are working out ways on how available Spectrum is properly utilized”.

“Poor quality of service has to do with technical and non-technical issues like vandalism of infrastructure and these are being addressed” Danbatta said.

+Remmy Nweke (ITRealms)  
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Pix: The Commission hosted some members of the GSM Association who paid a courtesy visit to the Executive Vice-Chairman, Professor Umar Danbatta. The GSMA team included Mortimer Hope-Director Africa,GSMA; Gaia Peneteriani, Senior Manager, GSMA UK, Aurelie Adam Soule-Policy Manager Africa; Kamal Tamawa-Policy Manager, Spectrum Africa. The director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo were amongst the Management of the Commission present during the courtesy visit. The GSM Association is an association of mobile operators and related companies devoted to supporting,standardising, deployment and promotion of the GSM mobile telephony system.

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