By Chinenye Anuforo
The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has enjoined telecom licensees to always comply with the provisions of extant laws, subsidiary legislations and other regulatory frameworks put in place by the Commission to ensure a more competitive and sustainable telecoms sector in Nigeria.
The EVC gave the charge at a two-day tripartite dialogue of the Commission tagged, ‘Talk To The Regulator (TTTR) Forum’ which held in Kano.
The programme had in attendance representatives of more than 104 telecoms licensees in different categories and segments of the Nigerian telecoms market as well as consumers of telecoms services.
Danbatta said while the Commission continues to engender effective regulatory environment, there is a need for licensees to support several initiatives carefully designed to enhance market opportunities for all its licensees.
“Telecoms industry sustainability can only be guaranteed where all licensees ensure full and effective compliance with licence conditions and other regulatory prescriptions. So, this forum provides an opportunity to discuss areas where some of our licensees are falling short of their licence obligations, and how we can collectively improve on the present situation,” he said.
The EVC highlighted some of the key policies that have been articulated by the Federal Government, including the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS, 2020-2030); the Nigerian national Broadband Plan (NNBP, 2020-202), the Revised national Digital Identity Policy for SIM Registration, among others, and sought the licensees’ full and unalloyed commitment to ensure their successful implementation.
Danbatta also briefed the licensees about some activities which the Commission is pursuing to further facilitate the achievement of its regulatory mandate.
These include the recently-launched NCC’s five-pillar Strategic Vision Plan (SVP, 2021,2025); commencement of a comprehensive review of its licensing frameworks; ongoing reviews of other key regulatory instruments to align with the rapidly emerging contemporary developments; ongoing National Identification Number (NIN) and Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) linkage exercise; as well as the ongoing efforts to launch the Fifth Generation (5G) network in Nigeria.
The NCC CEO said, as the regulator, the NCC provides the enabling environment for healthy competition in the industry.
Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC, Adeleke Adewolu, who amplified Danbatta’s voice on the need for strict compliance with telecoms regulations by the licensees, said telecoms has continued to lead national economic growth through effective regulation and adherence to rules of engagement by the licensees.
Thus, Adewolu said the sector has consistently driven growth of the Nigerian economy and has provided critical infrastructure required for the digital transformation of practically all spheres of life. He declared that in the second quarter of 2021, the Information and Communication technology (ICT) sector sustained its trajectory of growth and contributed 17.9 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic product (GDP).
Adewolu, however, identified three key factors driving the sector’s performance to include a stable policy environment engendered by various digital economy policies; a consistent tradition of firm, fair, forthright, transparent and developmental regulatory oversight provided by the NCC; as well as long-term infrastructure investment and service commitments of telecoms licensees.
“The NCC has, therefore, organised this forum to enable us to strengthen collaboration along these three lines, to enable our valued stakeholders give us feedback on ongoing initiatives and to enable you seek clarifications on issue of concern,” Adewolu told the forum.
In his remarks, Director, Licensing and Authorisation, NCC, Mohammed Babajika, said while the Commission is fully aware and committed to discharging its mandate, especially in facilitating conducive telecoms environment and guiding the industry to sustain the achievement already recorded in the industry, these can only be possible with the cooperation and support of the licensees.
Babajika said the Commission recognises the importance of various service providers, hence the need to constantly engage the licensees with a view to identifying generic and unique challenges and collectively proffering solutions to them.
The overarching objective of the forum, which is in line with NCC’s vision of strategic collaboration and partnership, was to get first-hand feedback from NCC’s licensees.
The programme will be hosted in other cities across the country during the year.