New telecom regulation beckons – News

•Prof Umar Garba Danbatta

By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor

The Nigerian telecom sector may soon herald fresh transformation as new guiding principles have started to unfold gradually.

Barely a month after the current Executive Vice Chairman, EVC of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta was reappointed, the man is beginning to give an indication that a new sheriff is in town.

From his actions since his reappointment, Danbatta  has been passing message to industry operators that it is no longer going to be business as usual.

First, a week after his reappointment, the chief regulator quickly announced the unveiling of a new strategic management plan, SMP. He said the action was in line with his objective of creating a seamless strategy to augment effective management and regulation of the telecommunications sector.

Why SMP?

Hi-Tech checks revealed that the SMP leverages on the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, NDEPS, as well as the new National Broadband Plan, NBP, 2020 – 2025 Roadmaps.

It covers the guiding principles and act as the operations manual for the Commission towards actualising the digital economy agenda of the Federal Government in the next five years.

Essentially, the SMP which the commission said was developed in-house with the stamp of the Management and Board is a visioning document of the Commission for planning, monitoring, analyzing and assessment of the Commissions goals and objectives in the next five years.

It was also gathered that the SMP will be resident in the Corporate Planning, Strategy And Risk Management Department of the commission, to ensure that the contents of the document truly become the guiding principles for the Commission in the next five years.

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Two days after the announcement, Danbatta launched the plan, in Abuja, and openly revealed that the SMP was a deliberate strategy designed to aid the NCC in driving its telecom regulatory mandate in the fast evolving telecoms industry, in the next five years. He said it will serve as a roadmap for the future of the Nigerian telecoms sector, taking into consideration the current and emerging trends in the industry and the numerous expectations of the diverse Stakeholders.

According to him, “the Federal Government’s economic diversification plans are focused on a robust digital economy, which will improve employment generation, as well as encourage innovation. This was a prime point in our minds during the formulation of the SMP. We have invested great time and effort in ensuring that this document is pragmatic, and I am very confident and excited in its completeness to successfully guide the Commission in achieving the set objectives. We are committed to the implementation of this SMP,” he added.

His boldness apparently impressed the Minister of communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ibrahim Pantami, who said: “I feel very excited for the fact that there is a serious improvement in the performance of NCC. The launch of this SMP 2020 – 2024 is a clear indication of that. When a parastatal is performing, it will create an innovative idea on how to be more successful. When a parastatal is not performing, you will not hear anything on how to implement policies and come up with different strategies and plans,” he said.

However, Pantami noted that despite the enhanced performance of NCC, there is a need for the Commission to redouble its efforts, challenge and ridicule its previous successes by setting new records through effective implementation of the SMP 2020 – 2024.

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Top management reshuffle

Again, two days after the launch the EVC showed willingness to make changes in the sector. He started with an in-house reshuffle of his top management officers.

In one fell swoop, four directors at the commission were suddenly redeployed to different departments.

The directors affected, included the Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department, Mr. Efosa Idehen; Director, Public Affairs Department, Dr. Henry Nkemadu; Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, and Director, Research and Development, R&D Department, Mr. Ephraim Nwokonneya.

In the new order, Adinde is the commission’s new Director, Public Affairs Department, while Nkemadu resumes at the Research and Development department of the commission. Recall, he was a deputy director before he was promoted and moved to Public Affairs department in 2019.

Also, Idehen becomes Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, while Nwokonneya is the Director, Compliance Monitoring, and Enforcement Department.

Sources close to the EVC said the reshuffle was motivated by a renewed confidence and willingness to break some eggs in order to prepare a sweet omelette for the industry.

The source said that the  EVC moved Efosa to Consumers Affairs so that he can also strengthen the protection of consumers’ rights and interests. “You see that consumers are still complaining about data depletion, billing matters and other issues. EVC believes that from his robust knowledge in his previous department, Mr. Efosa will be challenged to demonstrate his skills in his new department to strengthen consumer protection, information, education,”

“Nwokenneya, who replaced Efosa, is coming from R&D Department but had been known to have worked in compliance department for many years, is expected by the EVC to bring fresh ideas on the table on how to ensure improvement in the areas of strengthening of compliance to SIM registration rules by the operators as well as general compliance in the telecoms sector in line with the Federal Government’s agenda to strengthen national security.”

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He also said that bringing Adinde to Public Affairs department was also strategic considering the need to sustain the good reputation the Commission has been known for in effective communication of activities to all stakeholders

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