Chinenye Anuforo [email protected]
The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, hosted an interactive session with senior media chiefs from mainstream and online media community, where he gave account of his stewardship as the chief telecoms regulator in the last five years and also set priorities for his second term.
Addressing the forum, Danbatta, who was recently reappointed for another five years in office following the expiration of his first term in August 2015, enunciated his major policy initiatives that have produced record broadband penetration and enhanced the growth in the telecoms sector, especially in the contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
He also reeled out NCC’s regulatory priority areas for the next five years to include facilitating attainment of 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2025; consumer protection and empowerment; and consolidation of spectrum trading to ensure maximum and efficient usage of available frequencies.
Other areas of focus, according to him, will include continuous SIM registration audit to provide security and curtail incidences of banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery; creation of Emergency Communications Centres (ECCs) in more states of the federation; and execution of the counterpart funding agreements with the licensed Infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to facilitate digital transformation of the economy.
Speaking on his achievements in the last five years, Danbatta said that the diligent implementation of NCC’s Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) which focused on the 8-Point Agenda has helped to lift broadband penetration from 6 per cent in 2015 to 42.02 per cent by July, 2020. The sector’s contribution to GDP increased from 8.50 per cent in 2015 to 14.30 per cent in the second quarter of 2020. In financial terms, Danbatta said the Q2 2020 contribution translates to N2.272 trillion.
He noted that when he came on board five years ago, 217 access gap clusters were identified in the country affecting 40 million Nigerians without access to telecoms services. “But today, we have reduced the access gap clusters to 114 with 15 million of the 40 million digitally excluded Nigerians now having access to telecoms services. We e are committed to addressing the remaining access gap clusters, which are areas outside the frontier of economic viability to ensure the remaining 25 million Nigerians have access,” he said.
Similarly, Danbatta said on assumption of office, there were 47,000 kilometers of fibre optic cables laid across the country. However, five years after, as a result of regulatory focus, there are now 54,725 kilometers of fibre cables laid across the country through the efforts of some private companies in the sector.
“In line with the Federal Government’s target, additional 120,000 kilometer of fibre are being planned over the next four years. In this regard, the NCC is working on last-mile connectivity to different parts of the country through leveraging the 40 terabyte capacity of five submarine cables on the coastal shores of Nigeria,” he said.
Danbatta pointed out that the licensing of six Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) to deploy fibre infrastructure across the six-geo political zones will also help to galvanise increased connectivity. “This will also bring about a reduction in cost of data from N1000, per gigabyte of data to around N390 with broadband penetration target of 70 per cent to cover 90 per cent of the population within the next five years as contained in the new National Broadband Plan (2020-2025),” the EVC said.