" ITREALMS: NCC: Raising the ante of digital economy @AfricaNXT2023 - ITREALMS

Monday, February 13, 2023

NCC: Raising the ante of digital economy @AfricaNXT2023 - ITREALMS

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By increasing the stakes under the current digital economy development plans in the country, calls for commendations for more to come. So, its not surprising that the Nigerian Communications Commission is raising the ante, from what was witnessed at AfricaNXT 2023, writes ITREALMS’ REMMY NWEKE.
Telecoms Clinic@ITREALMS - NCC: Raising the ante of digital economy @AfricaNXT2023 - ITREALMS
Preamble:
It is not often that an applause is given to an individual or corporate organisaiton, but whenever there is an applause, there must be an associated reasons sufficient to merit it.

Applause, according to Merriam-Webster indicates an approval shown especially by clapping the hands, over and over; mostly by a group of persons, to depict appreciation at a play, speech, sporting event, activities, to name but a few, in which people pleased.


Applause for NCC:
So much so that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), at the opening of the 2023 AfricaNext show at the Landmark Event Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos, penultimate Monday, attracted industry commendations for its efficient regulatory processes that have given verve to the realisation of full digital economy in the country.

One of the speakers at the just concluded 2023 AfricaNXT hitherto known as the Lagos Social Media Week, the Chief Executive Officer, CashToken Africa, Mr. Lai Labode, said the manner with which the Commission understands and supports the emergence of companies that have critical roles to play in actualising the dreams of the digital economy, promises that Nigeria will make the desired impact in the future of the country’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for development.

Smartness in process:
Labode said NCC’s approach to transform the telecom industry and contribute to the Federal Government’s digital economy agenda, reflected in the diligence, speed and smartness in processing recent applications including that of CashToken, which, he said, had led to a major collaboration with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).

Speaking further during the CashToken Africa’s forum at the 2023 AfricaNXT conference while dwelling on “Socially Smart Business Models: Universal Cash Reward, Direct Sales Gamification and Wealth Redistribution,” Labode pointed out the demonstration of commitment to efficiency in NCC’s operations and attainment of excellence in regulatory oversight, and noted a key item in the Commission’s extant Five-Point Agenda for transforming the telecom sector.
TelecomsClinic @ITREALMS - NCC: Raising the ante of digital economy @AfricaNXT2023 - ITREALMS
ITREALMS gathered that CashToken Africa, operated by CeLD, is a Nigerian company advocating performance-based customer rewards and nudging firms to reward their customers with life-transforming rewards. NCC is one of the sponsors and key agencies participating at AfricaNXT event and took to the stands on Thursday, 9th February 2023, from 1.00pm-2.00pm, at the FutureNow Stage, with a theme that focused on its mandates and efforts towards the realization of the digital economy agenda of the Federal Government.

'Our next frontier is digital skills development':
Then came Thursday, February 9, this year, when NCC took the floor by noon at AfricaNXT2023, to deliberate on the sub-theme ‘The NCC Mandate Towards Realization of Full Digital Economy in Nigeria’ with summary focus being on the development of skills for Nigerians, across women, young girls and boys nationwide including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

Speaking at the occasion moderated by the Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka, the Head of Digital Skills and Services of the commission, Mrs. Freda Bruce-Bennett, informed participants that development of digital skills for Nigerians has become necessary following the creation of the Nigerian Office for Developing Indigenous Telecoms Sector (NODITS), whose mandate is to encourage indigenous participation in the telecom sector.

Emergence of NODITS:
The creation of the NODITS, she said, has started yielding desired results as indigenous have now been engaged in the production of products and services that were hitherto imported. Stressing that this step has given boost to the government’s digital economy pursuit. She also revealed that one of such products is the production of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards, which has helped the Nigerian government to save about $12 million owing to the ban of whole SIM importation.

“As we speak, six indigenous companies were licensed by the NCC to manufacture SIM cards, four out of these six are operational and have manufactured over 100 million SIM cards, saving Nigeria about $12 million from the importation of SIM cards,” she revealed.

Get your ISP license for .5m:
In his contribution, the Head of Spectrum Administration at NCC, Mr. Abraham Oshadami, said the Commission has slashed licensing fees for Internet Service Providers to as low as N500,000. This, he noted was an effort to the rollout of telecoms infrastructure across the country to achieve the National Broadband Plan of the Government.

For the Head, Financing and Stakeholder Management Team, NODITS, Mrs. Aderonke Sola-Ogunsola it is possible for the country to continue to make progress in the banning of more telecoms device such as Smartphone, phone chargers and SIM cards, pointing out that before the ban, SIM was imported into Nigeria, insisting that currently the country has the capacity to manufacture SIM locally, emphasising that with the ban and the manufacture of SIM in the country, more jobs would be created and foreign exchange saved.

Eight pillars of strategy:
Earlier in his opening remarks as the moderator, Mr. Muoka stated that digital literacy skills is one of the pivotal focus of the Commission and maintained that without digital stills citizens will not be able to maximise benefits of the digital services and innovations, which effort has the potential to grow the economy digitally, even as he underscored the session with the eight pillars of the digital economy and reiterated NCC's resolve at encouraging skills and innovation through NODITS programme. The session also had Ms Elizabeth Yisa in the panel.

Above all, its now obvious the reasons for the applause for NCC which is not about to end because the Commission from its mandates has continued to position the telecom regulator as an agency to emulate and as it continues to raise the ante of digital economy in the country, stakeholders should ensure they support NCC and the industry licensees at large to collaboratively deliver on the eight pillars; namely developmental regulation, digital litracy and skills, solid infrastructure, service infrastructure, soft infrastructure, digital economy development and promotion, digital society and emerging technologies and indigenous content promotion and adoption.

Submission:
ITREALMS recalled that while presenting the Nigerian Communications Commission's Strategic Management Plan (SMP) for fiscal years 2020 - 2024, as the 3rd stream since the deregulation of the telecom industry in Nigeria in 2001, the Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta traced the history of the Strategic Management Plan of the Commission to 2002 when the first Strategic Plan was developed, contributing to the accelerated growth of the industry.

This new Strategic Management Plan 2020 – 2024, he said, therefore aims at consolidating and building on the achievements of the past two decades and more importantly, supports the Federal Government of Nigeria's policy thrust of diversifying the economy through deployment of digital technology. While the SMP, he said, was designed to bring the benefits of the digitized economy to the citizens of Nigeria.

"The digital economy represents a wide range of economic activities that use digitized information and knowledge as key factors of production. The digitization of the economy creates benefits and efficiencies as digital technologies drive entrepreneurship, innovation and fuel job opportunities and economic growth.

As NCC strives to keep to its five pillars for the implementation of the SMP through regulatory rexcellence, universal broadband access, promotion of development of digital economy, market development and strategic partnering, one expects at the applause will keep coming moreso from industry players themselves by providing incentives for broadband deployment in Nigeria.

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