" ITREALMS: 2020 telecoms sector: A potent industry proving it’s worth - ITREALMS

Monday, January 25, 2021

2020 telecoms sector: A potent industry proving it’s worth - ITREALMS

ITREALMS ... making leadership SENSE with digital news! 
"Great leaders don't set out to be a leader ... they set out to make a difference. It’s never about the role. Always about the goal," - Lisa Haisha.
The above quote seems to summarize the leadership role of Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) notwithstanding odds.

Pandemic momentum:

Of course, the year 2020 in the telecommunications sector would no doubt pass without saying that it was full of challenges, but the realization of its potency as an industry has proved this worth as the year just winded down effectively on December 31.

Despite all the odds occasioned by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which most industry watchers thought initially was a mere ‘ChineseVirus’ which set in very early in the year 2020, but as the first quarter gains momentum, it was evident that the world eventually has a pandemic never seen before. But obviously depending on proactive information and communication technologies backed on relevant policies in spite of some unavoidable demeanors due to political exigencies; It was somewhat a navigation made easy for the Nigeria’s telecom sector, thanks to the apex telecom regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

From the unexpected quarters came the theory that COVID-19 has a link to much anticipated Fifth Generation (5G) network, which the country had late 2019 began trails, thereby making the linkage very apt, but for the proactive nature of NCC team, especially at the Department of Public Affairs in collaboration with ICT Media and generality of Nigerian media, this ugly part was nipped on the bud as soon as it came.

As the world including Nigeria continues to battle COVID-19 pandemic with the fundamental washing of hands, use of nose masks and physical distancing, the telecommunications sector brazed up as the only means of engagement both privately and publicly. This reliance on telecommunications made the year 2020 unexpected eventful year with a lot of landmark regulatory interventions by NCC in major collaboration with the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON); invariably with positive chart that the policies, programmes and activities of NCC further impacted positively the upward path of the digital ecosystem within the year.

This impact, 
ITREALMS gathered would not have been made possible without relatively effective regulatory initiatives under the leadership of the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, which depicts a leader that wants to make a difference with his eyes on the goals, despite the apparent economic recession and aftermath of the global outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and attendant lockdowns.

The foundation of NCC, 
ITREALMS gathered, luckily prepared the telecoms sector, somewhat, to provide the required digital stopcocks that assisted the Nigerian economy 9a0330float through seamless communication by individuals, businesses and government institutions in terms of voice and data services provided by telecoms operators, at a time when all other sectors of the economy were comatose.

Key development:

A key industry development in 2020 was the reappointment of Prof. Danbatta for another five-year term as the EVC of NCC, a presidential action that was lauded by industry stakeholders, who described Danbatta “as a round peg in a round hole.” His subsequent confirmation by the red chamber of the National Assembly, the Senate, in the third quarter of 2020 also helped to ensure sustainability and policy consistency, thereby preparing the industry for improved advancement.

ITREALMS recalls that Prof. Danbatta assumed office as EVC of NCC in August 2015, for a five- year term in the first instance. The first term ended in August, 2020 after which he was reappointed by the President, General Muhammadu Buhari, retired.

The reappointment, industry watchers said, afforded the Commission to successively carry on with a number of regulatory activities towards ensuring increased access to telecoms services, consumer education and protection, boosting security of life and property, sanitising the industry while also supporting other initiatives aimed at boosting innovation in the sector.

ITREALMS gathered that growth statistics have continued to put the industry on the consistent path of growth despite COVID-19 pandemic and allied afflictions to economies. For instance, official telecom industry data, showed telecoms contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rise at over 14.30 per cent as of second Quarter of 2020.

Data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicated that in financial value, the 14.30 per cent translated to some N2.272 trillion in Q2, 2020, even as, telecoms contribution as at December 2019 was 10.60 per cent, whereas telecoms investment continued to grow in leaps and bounds in 2020 beyond $70 billion.

In addition, 
ITREALMS gathered that active mobile voice subscribers increased from 184 million in December, 2019 to 208 million by October, 2020. This represents an additional 24 million active mobile lines accessed by Nigerians across mobile networks from December, 2019 to October, 2020. As a result, teledensity, the total number of telephone lines per hundred people in an area, increased from 96.76 per cent in December, 2019 to 108.94 per cent by October, 2020.

NCC’s regulatory activities also resulted in increased connectivity in the country. From, 126 million in December, 2019, Internet subscriptions rose impressively 152.9 million as of October, 2020. In the same vein, broadband (i.e. high-speed Internet) penetration maintained an upward swing to 45.93% in October, 2020, up from 37.80% in 2019.

Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service continued to offer wider option of service for telecoms consumers in 2020. In the year under review, 158,128 telecom consumers ported their lines between January-October, 2020, as against over 120,000 lines that were ported in 2019. The increase in MNP service usage is due to increased public education and awareness by the Commission’s head office and its zonal offices, as they intensified awareness on the availability, usage and benefits of MNP across geo-political zones. (Mobile number portability is a service introduced by NCC on mobile networks which allows telecoms consumers to switch from their current network to another preferred network, without changing their mobile number, when they feel a need to do so).

The Commission was able to successfully resolve over 98 per cent of the total consumer complaints received from telecoms consumers via the NCC Toll-Free Number 622, NCC Consumer Portal, social media platforms and written complaints. Subscriptions by telecoms consumers to the NCC’s Don-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 service reached over 30 million in 2020 compared with 22 million in 2019.

Besides, there are various regulatory steps embarked upon by the leadership of NCC, which paved the way to some impressive framework including the four-year NCC’s new Strategic Management Plan (SMP 2020-2024) meant to drive digital economy, which Prof. Danbatta, described as the fulcrum to aid NCC’s drive regulatory mandate in the fast-evolving telecoms industry, in the next five years. The SMP 2020 - 2024 has five pillars, which include regulatory excellence, universal broadband, promote development of digital economy, market development; and strategic partnering and 25 intended outcomes. Five critical success factors identified for the implementation of the Strategy include: ownership and commitment, effective communication, human resource capacity, development of and adherence to a strategy development manual; and implementation discipline.

Others include the continuous driving for ICT innovations in the academia, which gave birth to such programme as the Covid-19 Virtual Hackathon, instituted and endowed two additional Professorial Chairs to the tune of N40 million in two more Nigerian universities, namely for the premier University of Ibadan, Oyo State and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi State at N20m each to spur research in promotion of innovations to drive socio-economic development in the country, thus bringing to four of such tertiary institutions nationwide.

Re-engineering spectrum for revenue:

In 2020, ITREALMS gathered that the total remittances by NCC into the Federal Government's coffers from 2015 grew and reached N344bn in 2020. The revenue was essentially generated from spectrum sales, operating surplus and sanctions. So, aside spectrum auctions, NCC also engaged in spectrum re-planning, re-farming to optimise the usage of the scarce resource while it continued to address the quality of service (QoS) delivery through effective monitoring of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and development of KPIs for Third Generation (3G) and Fourth Generation (4G) networks.

All these are in a bid to ensure improved service delivery to telecom consumers. Interestingly, the Commission has received commendation on this financial performance from the House Committee on Telecommunications, who visited the Commission on an oversight function sometime in October, 2020. The committee commended the leadership of the Commission for its transparency in ensuring remittances to FG's CRF, considering the current revenue drive of the 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 telecoms services and to the Nigerian government.

Trial of e-SIM and national roaming:

In line with its commitment to always put Nigeria’s telecoms sector ahead of cutting-edge technologies that can revolutionise consumer experience, the Commission 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. The trial, approved to run for a period of one year, will involve testing 5,000 e-SIMs by the two networks, subject to compliance with a number of regulatory conditions. According to Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, 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. He said the e-SIMs is a technology that will eliminate the need for physical SIM card slots on mobile devices in the near future, adding 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.

Similarly, the Commission also granted approval for MTN and 9mobile trial on national roaming service for a period of three months, commencing from October 14, 2020 to end by January 13, 2020. The two telcos are expected to configure their networks to begin test and simulation for customer experience. The trial approval covers a few local governments, designated as the National Roaming geographic area, in Ondo State. Basically, roaming service will enable a mobile subscriber in Nigeria to automatically make and receive voice calls, send and receive data, or access other services when travelling outside a particular network geographical area by utilising the network coverage of other networks with roaming arrangements to access service. According to the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the primary objective of the National Roaming Service trial is to encourage network resource sharing among operators. It is will also lead to operational expenditure (OPEX) optimisation and capital expenditure (CAPEX) efficiencies leading to freeing up of resources to expand mobile network coverage to unserved and underserved communities across the country, which will lead to improved Quality of Service (QoS) delivery to subscribers.

For effective InfraCo:

In order to ensure the Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo) are optimized, NCC in 2020 had strategic review of InfraCo framework and their funding options, which led to constitution of a review committee to appraise the framework for future licensing of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo) and recommend sustainable funding options for effective implementation of the proposed national fibre project. It should be noted that the constitution of the committee was sequel to the requirements of the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020-2025) and reports of relevant committees set up by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which include the Inter-Ministerial Review Committee on Multiple Taxation on Telecommunications Operators over Right-of-Way (RoW) and the Technical Sub-Committee on Right-of-Way for Deepening Broadband Penetration in Nigeria.

The InfraCo project, as said by Danbatta, is precious to the government because of its ability to enhance robust and pervasive broadband infrastructure to drive service availability, accessibility and affordability.

Regulatory excellence, transparency and ethical standards:

In sustenance of regulatory excellence, transparency and ethical standards, among other sister agencies under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, NCC was rated high in the recently released Ethics Compliance and Integrity Scorecard (ECIS) 2020, by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC). Scoring 81.15 per cent, NCC topped the list among three other agencies under the Ministry, which featured in the intra-ministerial agencies’ ranking in ethics compliance and institutional integrity. The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) emerged second with a total score of 74.05 per cent; Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) came second with a score of 31.9 per cent while the National Information Technology development Agency (NITDA) occupied the fourth position with 17.65 per cent.

The report underscores NCC’s critical role as a member of the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU), which is the Federal Government’s vanguard for promoting ethics and ensuring compliance to ethical codes within the Nigerian Public sector. In furtherance to this, ICPC on Thursday, December 10, 2020 in Abuja, inaugurated the NCC’s Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU). ACTU is the initiative of the ICPC, approved by the Federal Government to serve as an in-house mechanism for corruption prevention within MDAs, in line with global best practices of building strong institutions and institutionalising good governance in the fight against corruption.

MVNO framework for improved access: 

Within the year under review, NCC in consultation with stakeholders developed a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) Licensing Framework, to bring another segment industry player, who are expected to rely on existing operators’ network to offer services to Nigerians in the rural, remote, unserved and underserved areas of the country.

This framework, 
ITREALMS gathered offers NCC an opportunity to improve access and connectivity, hence NCC sought to obtain comments from industry stakeholders and the general public on key considerations for 21 days; to boost formulation of sustainable and efficient MVNO licensing framework, especially for virtual operators.

The Commission further noted that the consultation paper is in line with processes stipulated in the consultation guidelines put forward by the Commission in 2007. The Commission expected all comments received to be considered before making a final decision, although the commission may decline to use or consider anonymous responses. Comments and responses submitted are deemed independent from its respondent’s relationship with the Commission.

Improving Consumer complaints mechanism:

The Commission leveraged its social media platforms and other legacy media to sensitise consumers of telecom services who are dissatisfied with services rendered to them by any of the service providers on the procedures for lodging their complaints to the Commission. They were continuously sensitised on their right to seek redress of any service-related issue by reporting to NCC after they would have reported to their respective service providers and are still not satisfied with the responses.

5G: A continuous consultation:

Arising largely from the misinformation, miscommunication, misunderstanding and misconception that greeted the trial of Fifth Generation (5G) by NCC in 2019, the regulator in 2020 commenced deliberate measures by developing a Draft Consultation Document on the Deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) Mobile Technology in Nigeria.

ITREALM gathered that the document defined the implementation plan for the deployment of 5G in Nigeria and provided a background into the benefits of 5G technology and outlines the strategies for a successful implementation of 5G in Nigeria and clearly presents guidelines for the relevant areas of the technology and the expectations from the operators, taking into account the expectations of all the stakeholders in the communications industry in the country.

ITREALMS recollects embarked on 5G trials in selected locations within the country in collaboration with an operator in 2019. The trial was to study and observe any health or security implications of 5G, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, had restated that as with the previous technologies such as 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G, they will not commence 5G deployment without due consultation with all relevant stakeholders.

Curbing SIM-related crimes: 

Currently, ITREALMS gathered that NCC is working with mobile network operators (MNOs) and other agencies such as the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in line with Federal Government’s Directive, through the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy (MoCDE), Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, for telecoms subscribers to link their National Identification Number (NINs) to the SIM database to curb SIM-related crimes.

In the year under review, spirited regulatory efforts were made by NCC to remove improperly-registered SIMs from the networks and a number of arrest and convictions of fraudulently-registered SIM registration by ‘operators agents’ were also made to serve as deterrent to others who may be engaging in improperly-registered SIM cards, which is a criminal offence in the country and a threat to national security. Just as NCC sensitized consumers on this menace and urged stoppage on the sale, purchase and use of pre-registered SIM cards as it constitutes a punishable offence under the law.

The use of pre-registered SIM cards, NCC noted, gives cover for unwholesome activities like kidnapping, call masking, threat to lives, bullying, armed robbery, identity theft financial crimes and SIM swap fraud, among others. Closely related to this was the massive cybercrime sensitization that was embarked on since the beginning of the year, culminating in a more widespread social media campaign in the month of October, with greater emphasis on child online protection, considering the fact that most children now take Internet-based learning and educational instructions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant restrictions.

MNOs listing on Nigerian Stock Exchange: 

In the course of the year, regulatory action of facilitating the listing of MTN Nigeria and other operators such as Airtel in the country’s stock exchange market in terms of economic gains to Nigeria and Nigerians, mostly in the areas of boosting market capitalisation and yielding dividends to shareholders. Based on the foregoing, market analysts report that MTN investors, alone, have raked in approximately N1 trillion in price appreciation and dividends since April 2020. This much is largely attributed to NCC’s effective regulatory action taken during the mobile network operator’s fine settlement agreement in 2016, which compelled the telco to, among other things, be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). The listing was one of the outcomes of the NCC’s stringent regulatory posture, which served as tonic for other telcos such as Airtel to follow the same direction.

Spectrum trading initiative:

The year 2020, NCC lifted the suspension on the Spectrum Trading Guidelines (STG) 2018, pending the conclusion of the ongoing review of the guidelines, following approval by NCC Board at its Special Board session, which held on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. This meeting was preceded by the suspension of the STG by the Board at its 96th session in May 18, 2020. While NCC in a public statement available to ITREALMS dated May 27, 2020, had announced the suspension of STG 2018 for the Nigerian telecommunications industry and informed all licensed telecoms operators, prospective investors, industry stakeholders and the general public of the regulatory decision.

ITREALMS reports that the Board took the decision for Spectrum Trading in response to telecommunications global dynamics, in efforts to optimally utilise and maximise the benefits of Spectrum as a scarce resource. Spectrum is a limited resource, which, when inefficiently utilised, greatly limits broadband coverage and speed. The current Spectrum Trading Guidelines were developed in 2018 after industry-wide consultations and this instrument allows that the Spectrum resource be traded on the Secondary Market through Transfer, Sharing or Leasing (TSL) upon satisfying stipulated regulatory conditions.

According to the Commission, the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja in March 2020, requires that these Guidelines be reviewed to ensure that unutilised spectrum is fairly traded to facilitate rollout by other operators amongst others. The guidelines will also help to address the need for ubiquitous broadband deployment to accelerate penetration and access in line with the economic agenda of the Federal Government.

Determining ITR for Voice Services and USSD pricing:

In September 2020, NCC embarked on a cost-based study to set the new pricing regime for mobile International Termination Rate (ITR) for inbound international voice calls in the country. The ITR is the rate paid to local operators by international operators to terminate calls in Nigeria.

As part of the process for the rate determination, the Commission organised a virtual stakeholder engagement forum with relevant industry stakeholders to intimate them with the ongoing cost-based study and the need to cooperate with Messer's Payday Advance and Support Services Limited, the consultants engaged to carry out the study. Addressing the stakeholders in Abuja recently, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the study has become imperative following the various implementation constraints arising from contending industry and market dynamics that met previous efforts at finding an optimum price for the termination of international voice services in Nigeria. Through the new ITR pricing, the Commission will be able to balance the competing objectives of economic efficiency and allow operators the latitude to generate reasonable revenue.

Additionally, the Commission, in furtherance of its mandate to protect the interests of consumers and support a robust telecommunications sector, revised its Determination on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) pricing earlier published on the 23rd of July, 2019 and suspended by the Federal Government at the wake of its implementation by the operators. The amendment was necessitated following a protracted dispute between Mobile Network Operators and Financial Institutions on the applicable charges for USSD services and the method of billing. As a responsive and effective regulatory authority, the Commission recognises that its policies are not static and may be modified from time to time as circumstances demand. The NCC has, therefore, determined that Mobile Network Operators must not charge the consumers directly for the use of USSD channels for financial services in the form of end-user-billing. The transaction should be between the MNOs and the entity to which the service is provided (i.e. Banks and Financial Institutions).

Accounting framework for telecoms industry:

The NCC, this year, also commenced the implementation of the Accounting Separation Framework (ASF) in the Nigerian telecoms industry effective from July 15, 2020. The policy document, “Determination on the Implementation of an Accounting Separation Framework for the Nigerian Telecoms Industry”, which was developed via a consultative process in 2015, has undergone a comprehensive review by the regulator in collaboration with telecoms licensees and other critical industry stakeholders. The implementation will commence with six licensees include Airtel Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited (9Mobile), Globacom Nigeria, Main One Cable Company Limited and IHS Nigeria. According to Danbatta, the Commission considers the Accounting Separation Framework “as an effective, least evasive and less costly solution to implement to meet its regulatory objectives”, adding that the implementation of the Framework is also a key deliverable for the Commission in the new National Broadband Plan (NBP), 2020-2025.”

Creation of Digital Economy Department:

In continuation of its renewed strategy and vigour for effective delivery of its regulatory mandate, the Commission (NCC), in July 2020, created a Digital Economy Department, principally responsible for implementing programmes and policies aimed at fully supporting and promoting the national digital economy agenda of the Federal Government. The creation of the new department is in line with the Commission’s strategy to create a dedicated team, with the sole responsibility of giving necessary push to the promotion of digital economy vision of the Federal Government. According to Prof. Danbatta, “placing the newly-created department under the Office of the EVC also underscores the importance the Commission places on the need to successfully drive the overall national digital economy strategy of the government through ensuring its effective monitoring and supervision.” In addition to working with the eight pillars of the National Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) document, the Broadband Implementation Unit in the Commission, hitherto placed under the Special Duties Department and all the staff of the Unit, are to move to the newly-created Digital Economy Department.

Already, Engr. Babagana Digima, an Assistant Director in the Special Duties Department has been moved and designated as the pioneer Head of the new department. The NDEPS, as a national policy document, was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2019 to add the needed impetus to the actualisation of the Federal Government’s Economy Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

Increased inter-agency collaboration: 

In line with its inter-agency collaboration, NCC in May 2020 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to ensure the tax agency ascertain accuracy and completeness of value added tax (VAT) elements and other taxes payable in the transactions of telecoms operators.

With the MoU, FIRS will be able to integrate an application programming interface (API) technology solution with the systems of telecom operators for independent verification of the amount of Value Added Tax (VAT) that should be paid by MNO rather than relying entirely on the Operators’ books of accounts. 

The MoU with FIRS joined a long list of other orgainsations both in the public and private sectors which the NCC has collaborated with towards ensuring regulatory excellence, since telecoms percolates all the spheres of our society.

2020 gallery of awards:

The gallery of awards that came the way of NCC and its EVC this year is, no doubt, a testament to the recognitions of the excellent leadership ethos that are driving effective industry regulation at NCC. The highest of which is Zik Prize won by Danbatta in the professional leadership category. The prestigious award, which was presented to the EVC at an elaborate and well-attended annual Zik Prize 2020 organised by Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC) in Lagos on Sunday, December 6, 2020, was in recognition of Danbatta’s excellence regulatory finesse, which has resulted in accelerated growth of the industry since 2015. 

Other awards received in the course of the year under review include: The International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Golden World Awards (GWA) 2020 won by the Commission for its harmonized emergency number, 112 and the construction of Emergency Communications Centers (ECCs) in 36 states of the Federation and the FCT with 19 states already operational and additional five ready for activation.

At the Security and Emergency Management Award (SAEMA) 2020, the NCC was declared Winner of ‘Emergency Management Security and Emergency Management Award and was additionally presented with a Certificate of Excellence for ‘Outstanding Accomplishments in Category of Emergency Management’ at the award.

Also, at this year’s edition of the Nigeria Tech Innovation and Telecoms Awards (NTITA), which held in November, 2020, Danbatta was honoured with the “Broadband Oxygenator of the Year” for his remarkable role and commitment to the development of broadband infrastructure to support the country’s digital economy drive while NCC, as a corporate organisation received the “Outstanding Contribution to Driving Greater Broadband Penetration Award of the Year.”

Earlier in August, 2020, two awards, ‘Human Rights Telecoms Defender’ for the EVC and ‘Human Rights Guard’ for the Commission, as a corporate entity, were presented by Wheel of Hope Human Rights Foundation (WHHRF), a frontline Nigerian Non-Governmental Organisation while the ‘Icon of a Greater Nigeria’ was also presented to the EVC by the Youth Coalition Against Corruption (YOCAC), a coalition of Nigerian youths from all walks of life. Coincidentally, WHHRF and YOCAC adduced similar reasons for finding the EVC and Commission deserving of the recognitions: for keeping Nigerians seamlessly connected in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, in September, 2020, the National Association of State Assembly Legislators (NASAL) has in September, 2020, honoured the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta with a “National Service Excellence Award” for his transformational leadership in deepening access to telecommunications services across state constituencies of Nigeria in the last five years. Meanwhile, the winning of the aforementioned awards, among several others in the year under review, has been attributed by many industry stakeholders, stakeholders in the academia and traditional rulers in the country as a testament to the quality of leadership the NCC enjoys.

Last line:

Above all, the over-bearing reports from the office of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, must be checked, to avoid any undue pressure of the regulatory body likewise any other Federal Departments and Agencies within the MoCDE.

For instance, the exclusion of the likes of representatives of the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators (ALTON) in the National Broadband Plan (NBP) Committee needs to be revisited and promptly reversed with necessary inclusions, considering that nothing and practically nothing can be achieved by this committee without the operators inputs, after all they are the one laying major pipes for connectivity. ALTON practically is the umbrella of MNOs including MTN, Airtel, 9mobile, Glo and nTel, hence dragging MTN into the net to spite ALTON does not augur well for the country.

ITREALMS recalls about December 17, 2019, the office of Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami with mandate for 2020-2025 and just imagine this plan without ALTON and MNOs in the country making input.

The current NBP Committee has Ms. Funke Opeke, Managing Director/CEO of Main One Cable Company Limited, as Chairperson with Dr. Bashir Gwandu as Co-Chairman. Engr. Ubale Maska, the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services at NCC as the Secretary to the Committee. Maska will be supported by four staff of the Ministry in the secretariat. In addition, the 25-member Committee has formal representatives from the academia, NCC, Galaxy Backbone, MTN, Google, NiRA, Defence Space Administration, National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), GSM Association among others.

Another instance was the initial order on December 16, 2020 for Nigerian telecom subscribers to link their NINs to SIM by the MoCDE office as directed by Dr. Pantami. This to a lot of industry watchers was seen as affront on the regulator, which should be independent and should be seen as such too. Needless to say that directive through lots of Nigerians into confusion as we started witnessing the second wave of Corona Virus (COVID-19), which begets that relevant protocols must be adhered to and a Minister is ordering telecom consumers to ensure the complete this linkage within two weeks, that is by December 30th, 2020.

Although the National Assembly has since extended the deadline, but the error has been made on regulatory fortress indicated somewhat that the regulator was posited as not being in charge and let alone asserting its independence.

Noteworthy is that steps are on to ensure that shortcuts in regulatory interventions are now being addressed due to largely by the coolheaded method of NCC leadership, led by Prof. Umar Danbatta with a return to stakeholder approach.

Thus giving paid to the Lisa Haisha declaring that great leaders often set out to make a difference with focus on the goal, and that is what industry watchers say NCC under Danbatta is doing.

No comments:

Featured post @ITREALMS

Five tips for small business owners online - ITREALMS

Sponsored@ITREALMS ... making leadership SENSE with digital news! Entrepreneurs can benefit from new ideas on ways to address a particular i...