The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has restated the Commission’s dedication to establishing a sector built on strong institutional and human capacity that can compete globally, even in the face of evolving technologies.
The EVC who has remained dogged in ensuring the propagation of federal government’s digital economy drive, also called on the participation of all stakeholders in the quest to build capacity in the ICT industry, a commitment he made at assuming office as the EVC/CEO of the Commission in 2015.
It will be recalled that while speaking on “Building Institutional Capacity and Human Capital: How a Regulator Builds Capacity that Fits for Purpose in a Rapidly Moving Environment” at the International Institute of Communications and Regional Telecommunications and Media Forum held in Singapore, Prof Danbatta had noted that the inherent dynamism in Telecommunications demands very strong institutions and critical human capacity for regulators to achieve their regulatory mandate in evolving environments.
He pointed out that successful institutions ensure the possession of a clear vision, mission, set of values, and operational principles that are supported by an appropriate structure, motivated workforce, and value-adding processes for which the NCC is known for.
The EVC assured that the Commission will not relent on its role of ensuring that telecom operators and consumers are set on a balance that will engender local growth and global competitiveness.
He said the regulatory role of the NCC, established by a decree in 1992, which was amended and transformed to an Act of parliament in 2003, empowered by the
While noting that the government and critical stakeholders in the operational space have remained supportive of the regulator, Prof. Danbatta acknowledged that consequently, the cumulative effect of the regulatory instruments has elicited enormous growth in the industry. He observed that in 2000 the number of active lines was less than 500,000 but, has risen to over 192 million by the last quarter of 2021. The Commission has also expanded broadband penetration from 6% to 42.06 as at February 2021, while access gap clusters have been reduced from 207 to 114; and Fibre Optic coverage has increased from 47,000km to 54,725 km, while Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) for 3G and 4G deployments have increased from 30,000 to 53,460.
Prof. Danbatta also spoke of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy Policy (NDEPS) (2020-2030) which boasts of eight (8) pillars designed to, amongst others, enable Nigeria become a leading player in the global digital economy; provide a catalyst to facilitate the diversification of the economy; and accelerate the attainment of the key national objectives of improving security, reducing corruption and expanding the economy.
He said: “Similarly, the Nigerian National Broadband Policy (NBP) (2020-2024) clearly highlights the various implementation strategies that would aid the pervasive inclusion and rollout of broadband services across the country whilst also developing a robust and holistic digital economy.”
Other initiatives in place to achieve the goals include the setting up of NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP 2020-2024 or “ASPIRE 2024”) which is consolidated on the earlier articulated vision in the Strategic Vision Plan and 8-Point Agenda. “We have responded to the policy goals highlighted above to harness the immense socio-economic benefits of ICT for national development; to ensure that ICT infrastructure are up to the standard necessary to provide ubiquitous broadband services in Nigeria; and to align the Commission’s regulatory efforts with the aforementioned Policy Instruments, as well as the growth strategies of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to ensure Growth, Inclusiveness, and Sustainability. We have recorded a number of significant achievements in this regard.”
He listed these achievements to include the licensing of six (6) infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to speed up the deployment of broadband infrastructure throughout Nigeria; the provision of training and supporting of the public institutions with ICT interventions like School Knowledge Centers, ADAPTI, among others.
He further spoke of the creation of a full-fledged Department of Digital Economy to support Federal Government’s Digital Economy agenda. “We also increased funding of Telecom Research to N336.4m and have endowed four (4) Professorial Chairs. We have also commenced requisite engagements on 5G deployments and some of our licensees have already carried out trials.”
These efforts speak to the Commission’s commitment to building institutional and human capacity In the Nigerian ICT industry.