The executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said the AfricaNEXT Conference 2022 aligns with the commission’s vision for its technology-driven vision for the African continent.
Speaking during a chat with the commission’s in-house media team last week, ahead of preparations by the NCC’s delegation to the confab which will take place from February 27 to March 4, 2022, in Lagos, he reiterated the commission’s faith in the vision of AfricaNXT to co-create a prosperous future for all Africans through collaborations, conversations and programming that are oriented in harvesting, harnessing and leveraging innovative technologies.
“The visualisations and concrete actions of the AfricaNXT conference are in congruence with NCC’s faith in the promise of technology to galvanise Nigeria and Africa’s development. This explains our continued support and participation at the conference which is now in its 10th year and we will continue to play active roles in this event which takes place in Lagos annually,” he said.
The EVC regretted his inability to lead NCC’s delegation to the conference because he is already slated to play a key role at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2022, organised by GSM Association. The Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest and most influential forum and exhibition by stakeholders in the mobile technology ecosystem, takes place in Barcelona, Spain, annually in the same week AfricaNXT happens in Lagos.
Formerly known as ‘Social Media Week Lagos’, the AfricaNXT Conference is the largest assemblage of innovators from across Africa and Africa’s diasporan communities. As a consistent programming partner of AfricaNXT, the NCC has been a regular feature of the conference and festival. Although the COVID-19 pandemic compelled the organisers to observe a low-key, strictly virtual conference in 2021, the 2020 conference was attended by over 20,000 people (both in-person and virtually). At the 2020 conference, NCC’s discourse overviewed the fifth-generation technology and services, where the panellists explained 5G, which at that time, seemed like an abstract idea to many.
At the AfricaNXT 2022, the NCC will take the discourse on 5G further in a more pragmatic context, given the progress achieved over the past two years.
The thematic focus for its panel of discussants is, “Moving forward steadily, timely and with precision: the socio-economic significance of the deployment of 5G services”.
Participants will have the opportunity to glean the benefits of 5G services to individuals, businesses and the nation, with positive implications for the continent, as Nigeria matches steadily to become the first country in West Africa to deploy 5G technology services.
The journey to the birth of 5G services in Nigeria started in 2019. Between then and now, the NCC has rallied stakeholders to forge all necessary partnerships, collaborations and alliances. There have been numerous stakeholders’ consultations (including an all-inclusive, robust public hearing at the National Assembly and a presentation to the Federal Executive Council). The NCC also instituted a communications campaign, pivoted on public information and education, especially in the vortex of misconceptions, misinformation, disinformation and misinformation about 5G.
Following the approval by the Federal Government, proof-of-concept trials demonstrating the possibilities of 5G took place in some cities in Nigeria. The NCC, in collaboration with stakeholders, equally developed an information memorandum, which was reviewed by all stakeholders, after which a policy on 5G was instituted by the Federal Government. The policy was unveiled to the public by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, 2022.
Armed with an extant approval, the NCC conducted a globally-acclaimed auction of the 3.5GHz spectrum on December 13, 2021. The spectrum is to be used to deploy 5G services. The bid was won by two communications companies and licensees of the NCC – Mafab Communications and MTN Nigeria. A few days ago, the minister of communications and digital economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, officially handed to NCC the spectrum for 5G services for allocation to the winners of the bid.
Therefore, having fulfilled every condition precedent to the deployment of 5G services in Nigeria, the NCC is not resting on its oars in public education and information-sharing. This is why the commission is leveraging AfricaNXT, a rare, seminal and historic assemblage of practical innovators and enthusiasts of technology and development, to deepen knowledge about 5G among its ever-widening geography of stakeholders.