* Say renewal, well deserved
* Achievements that paved the way
By Prince Osuagwu, high-tech publisher
The telecommunications industry has been jubilant since last week, the federal government announced the reelection of the current Executive Vice President of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Prof Umah Danbatta.
Danbatta, whose five-year term is about to end, after being appointed on August 4, 2015 and confirmed by the Senate on November 25, 2015, in accordance with the provision of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA ), 2003, will serve for another five years, taking it until 2025.
In announcing the re-election, President Muhammadu Buhari said the move was to consolidate the enormous achievements already recorded in the industry, as well as to ensure stability in the industry.
He believes that another five years will give Danbatta the opportunity to move the industry on a higher path of growth, especially at this time when there is increased reliance on the digital economy.
In keeping with the president’s expectations, industry stakeholders have asked the EVC to think less of elation and praise and face the difficult task of leading a sector that is expected to be the mainstay of the economy, particularly with the devastating blow that the COVID-19 pandemic has faced all economies
They also took the time to take x-rays of the possible achievements that may have led to his re-election and asked him to consolidate in most, if not all, of them, but cautioned that only an independent regulator could achieve consolidation.
They regretted recent developments in the industry, including unnecessary controversies, where the regulator appeared to have ceded its independence to the Ministry of Communications.
The president of the Association of Telecommunications Operators with License in Nigeria, ALTON, Engr Gbenga Adebayo, while congratulating Danbatta for a new mandate, advised him to prepare for the job because the sector seems to be stressed as it becomes the meeting point during the COVID-19 period.
He said: “We congratulate Professor Danbatta as this is a testament to his good leadership under which the industry has made significant progress and a positive impact on our economy.”
“However, we expect a stable and independent regulatory environment and also a stronger regulatory and policy environment. The regulator needs to protect smaller players and ensure that they survive in the interests of competition and consumers. We hope that your second term will bring consistency to the progress of the industry.
Another industry giant, and Nigerian lead software developer Dr. Chris Uwaje also said: “My recommendation to him is to launch the activation of the Digital Bridge Institute’s six regional Innovation facilities, DBI, to accelerate opportunities , massive benefits of youth employment and wealth creation in the face of the emerging digital revolution and the economy.
Finally, I would urge and appreciate if the EVC can provide constructive intervention to erect the National Software Ecosystem, which is, in fact, the central lifeline of our digital transformation mission, “he added.
Along the same lines, the Vice President of Nigeria Internet Group, who also serves as Executive Director of the Center for Cyber Awareness and Development, CECAD, Dr. Bayero Agabi, advised Danbatta to take the issue of cyber security seriously. , since that could spoil all the gains already achieved in the sector.
“The EVC should take cyber security skills and development as part of its approach. This is because COVID-19 has forced many people, organizations and nations online to an unprecedented level. Once again, digital life has also made it almost mandatory for everyone to digitize or send out of business. ”
He also reported that the regulator makes Internet access a right if the country is to seize the opportunity of digital growth to institutionalize digital education.
But a social commentator and tech savvy Mr. Okoh Aihe listed some troubling remarks he believes should draw EVC’s attention in his new assignment.
He said: “Devoid of salt and pepper, these are some of the industry’s loud murmurs that deserve EVC’s attention and could also find their way onto your agenda.” They include creating strong leadership that accommodates the strength of each stakeholder for industry growth, initiative and innovation; a review of the Spectrum Trading Guidelines that was recently discontinued. Industry followers believed that the NCC had embarked on a good cause to make spectrum use more dynamic, but cut it short for reasons that remain obscured.
“A proper revival of Infraco licenses to breathe new life into the industry. The proper deployment of Infracos will improve connectivity between operators and make them less dependent on satellite and microwave services. This alone will address the elusive quality of service. ”
He also said he noted that there has been a breakthrough with some of the state governors reducing the cost of the right-of-way (RoW) for fiber deployment in all states; or a total elimination in some cases, such profits could be eroded by multiple taxes that are equally very damaging to the sector.
They suggest a one-stop shop where operators can enter a state and do all their transactions in one place.
He advised that the base rate or minimum rate for the data be delivered based on political misunderstandings and handled professionally, while waiting for the NCC to track the status of the Critical National Infrastructure Bill (CNI) that was allegedly in the Seventh Assembly, and pursue It is conclusive to help protect the industry.
Why was he re-elected?
Stakeholders recalled that upon taking office four years and a few months ago, Danbatta was launched by presenting an 8-Point Agenda, which was expected to provide an approach for the Commission and the industry at large.
Some of the topics covered by the agenda included facilitating broadband penetration, improving quality service, optimizing the use and benefits of spectrum, promoting ICT innovation and investment opportunities, facilitating strategic collaboration and partnership. , protect and empower consumers, promote fair competition and inclusive growth. how to guarantee regulatory excellence and operational efficiency.
High qualification in institutional work processes.
Two years later, the Public Service Reform Office recognized Danbatta and rated it highly in institutional work processes.
Buruea praised its strong business organizational structure, policies and practices that facilitated effective and efficient service delivery.
Key growth statistics
Today, the impressive industry growth statistics from 2015 to date are described as evidence of the successes recorded under Dnabatta as NCC EVC in his first term.
For example, despite the recession and other macroeconomic challenges, the contribution of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the telecommunications segment only increased from 8.50 percent in August 2015 to 10.88 percent from the first quarter of 2020. However , the entire contribution of ICT was even greater than 14 percent as of the first quarter of 2020, according to the latest data published by the National Statistics Office (NBS).
Exceeding the 2018 broadband target
Today, after the painstaking implementation of the 8-Point Agenda, the country has been able to meet and exceed its 30 percent broadband penetration target by the end of December 2018. Various efforts by the Commission to license new bands spectrum, re The cultivation of certain frequency bands and initiatives to promote greater broadband infrastructure in the country have also been responsible for these feats.
Rural connectivity with TVWS technology
In addition to the strategic implementation of the 8-Point Agenda, the Commission worked tirelessly with the ministry and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to develop a Regulatory Guide for the use of television white space (TVWS) for the deployment of Telecommunications services.
The framework, which is now fully implemented, will help the country take advantage of unused transmission spectrum to extend affordable broadband services to the country’s underserved and underserved communities.
Accelerating broadband infrastructure in 774 LGA
In addition, closely related to the efforts of the NCC led by Danbatta to deepen broadband penetration is the search for the Commission’s Open Access Model (OAM) project aimed at expanding access to digital services in the 774 government councils. local in the country.
Commitment to ICT innovations in the telecommunications industry
In line with its commitment to promoting innovation to drive digital transformation, the leadership led by Danbatta created a Research and Development (R&D) Department for the Commission in 2016, with the aim of synchronizing the various ongoing research activities. and other development projects that are carried out. By the Commission This decision, which was in line with the provisions of the National Telecommunication Policy 2000 and the Nigerian National ICT Policy 2012, is helping the Commission to stimulate and sustain innovations in the ICT industry.
Spectrum auctions and initiatives
In the past four years of Danbatta’s leadership, the Commission, in addition to achieving and exceeding 30% broadband penetration, had also achieved some broadband successes in the spectrum auction area. These include auctioning six 2 × 5 megahertz (MHz) slots in the 2.6 gigahertz (GHz) band, planning for the 800 MHz band for long-term evolution (LTE), licensing two 10-slots MHz each in the 700 MHz Band, as well as the opening of the 70/80 GHz band of E-band spectrum for last-mile and backhaul services.