‘Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges’

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A cross section of the forum participants in Lagos.

The executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said that continuous dialogue between the regulator and its various licensees remained central to finding lasting solutions to issues negatively impacting licensees’ compliance with extant regulations and challenging the growth of the telecoms industry.

Danbatta stated this during the second edition of NCC’s 2021 ‘Talk to The Regulator (TTTR)’ forum, themed “Improving Stakeholders Satisfaction” held in Lagos.

He pointed out that the objective of the forum was to get direct feedback from licensees on how the commission as a regulator is meeting licensees’ expectations, adding it was designed to identify areas for regulatory improvement, highlight areas of licensees’ defaulting as well as address critical industry challenges undermining full accomplishment of the set objectives for consolidating the gains in the sector. 

Danbatta, who was represented at the forum by NCC’s executive commissioner, stakeholder management, Barr. Adeleke Adewolu, said the forum was orgainsed in keeping with the commission’s commitment to continually ensure regulator-licensee interactions to develop collaborative solutions and implementation programmes to combat the challenges of the telecom ecosystem.

“The Nigerian Communications Act (NCA, 2003) invests power and responsibilities for the regulation of both the technical and market-related aspects of telecoms infrastructure and services in Nigeria. We consider our role as regulators very vital to ensuring industry sustainability because NCC considers consultation as the life-blood of regulation,” he said.

According to him, the commission has consistently deployed stakeholder engagement tools like public enquiries, private investigations, written information requests, one-on-one discussions and diverse consumer engagement platforms.

“These tools enable us to ensure that our interventions are well-grounded and that our decisions are based on a clear understanding of stakeholders’ perspectives,” he said.

Danbatta said that such interactions fit squarely within the five pillars of the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (2020-2024) which include regulatory excellence, promotion of universal broadband access, the development of the digital economy, facilitation of market development and strategic partnering.

“Through regular interaction with our licensees, the commission can gain valuable insights to enhance our regulatory output and enabled us to drive excellence in consonance with the five pillars of our strategic vision for the industry as streamlined in the commission’s strategic vision plan (SVP), 2021-2025,” the EVC stated.

Danbatta also reinforced the commission’s belief that only through optional performance by the licensees will Nigeria be able to achieve the national objectives and targets in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 and other national policy instruments targeted at developing the nation’s digital economy ecosystem.

“Therefore, we intend to use this forum to seek support for many initiatives that the commission has carefully developed in our quest to enhance market opportunities for all our licensees,” Danbatta said to emphasise the NCC’s faith in collaboration with stakeholders and its licensees to address any concerns that may impede the attainment of the relevant policy objectives.

 The NCC CEO also emphasised that the commission will continue to roll out forward-thinking and all-inclusive regulatory initiatives to provide market opportunities for all its licensees.

Additionally, Danbatta said NCC is also committed to constantly reviewing licensing frameworks as well as key regulatory instruments to refresh the commission’s regulatory frameworks and ensure better service delivery for consumers and efficient attainment of other national interest objectives.

Also addressing the gathering, the director, licensing and authorisation, NCC, Mohammed Babajika, said the forum was intended to foster a harmonious relationship with licensees, identify their challenges and provide feedback on licensees’ fulfilment of their licence obligations and re-emphasise the role of licensees in ensuring good quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) for the consumers. 

While intimating the licensees of some regulatory initiatives focused on licensing issues, Babajika said despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant challenges, the commission was taking measures to further liberalise the telecoms industry by finalising the framework for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) while also reviewing existing licensing regulations.

In addition, the director also informed the licensees that the commission was finalising work on information memorandum (IM) for Fifth Generation (5G) technology deployment, which will promote emerging technology trends such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), over-the-top (OTT) services and Big Data analytics, blockchain, among others. 

At the event, presentations were made by some management staff of the commission to the licensees and others, who participated actively through listening, observing and making suggestions, as well as seeking clarifications to improve the quality of discourse and the expected outcomes.

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