The executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said the commission is particularly noted for its faith in strategic collaborations and partnerships as a central principle of its stakeholders’ relationship management and regulatory activities.
He made this assertion in his keynote address at the 2021 virtual conference and exhibition on Information Communication Technology and Telecommunications (ICTEL) with the theme – ‘Exploring public private collaboration for a robust digital infrastructure, regulations, investment and policy’ organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry today (July 27).
The NCC boss said the commission had also operated in a number of PPP engagement through such initiatives as Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF), a multi-sectoral committee of private and public sector institutions whose collaboration with the commission had bolstered the commission’s determination to continually improve on all principles of protection of telecom’s consumers from an array of service challenges as well as incidences of frauds and other associated risks of online transactions.
“In a concrete expression of belief in the centrality of PPP principles, the NCC, in November 2020, created a ‘PPP Unit’ as a division under its special duties department. The unit is overseeing the implementation of the NCC’s revenue assurance solutions (RAS) as well as the device management system (DMS) project. The two projects are being implemented in collaboration with private sector players. While the RAS is intended to address the revenue leakages accruable to the government, through the NCC, the DMS is intended to address the issue of type approval of telecom equipment and devices to ensure originality and standardisation because of the implication of substandard devices for health and quality of service.
“The DMS is also instituted to tackle the problem of SIM boxing and call masking, which not only constitutes threat to national security but also a mark of anti-competitive practice in the telecoms sector and a basis for loss of revenue in tax remittances to the government.
“However, despite the various PPP interventions being undertaken by the government and similar initiatives at the commission, a number of challenges persist in the telecom ecosystem. These include multiple taxation and regulation, Right of Way (RoW) issue, vandalism, poor electricity supply, and lately worsening insecurity. All of these factors affect both the tempo and quality of infrastructure rollout by the private sector licensees, who are the main engine of growth in the telecom sector. These challenges also affect the quality of telecom services and by extension the Quality of Experience (QoE) of telecom consumers,” he added.
He urged the panelists to suggest better and more innovative PPP approaches that might be explored by the government towards making our telecoms infrastructure safer, more resilient, more robust, and how we may attract more investment into the sector, adding the next frontier for enriching digital economy globally was through sustained investment in broadband or high-speed Internet access.
Danbatta reiterated the commission’s commitment to continuously engage relevant stakeholders, both in the public and private sectors, in the country and beyond, in order to ensure quality service delivery to the telecom’s consumers.
He congratulated the chamber for its consistency in organising ICTEL despite the challenges imposed by the raging pandemic, even as he urged the chamber not to rest on its oars, assuring it of the commission’s continued collaboration as much as the social and economic realities permit.