The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has embarked on a sensitisation of the telecommunications industry to instil proper and continuous risk identification and to manage these risks before they affect the industry.
Speaking during a two-day conference at its headquarters in Abuja, the NCC’s executive vice-chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta said it has become important to minimise risks in the industry to ensure that services are not disrupted and consumers get the best services that are globally available.
The conference themed “Nigerian Telecommunications Industry: Managing the Emerging Risks and Embracing Risk Opportunities,” called for collaboration between the regulator and other stakeholders in the industry to achieve multi-stakeholder strategies aimed at identifying and addressing emerging risks in the telecommunications sector, to ensure sustainable and impacting growth.
The commission’s director of policy, competition and economic analysis, Yetunde Akinloye, who represented the EVC, said the essence of the forum was to examine myriads of issues that challenge the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 and to enhance the development of a sustainable ICT sector in Nigeria.
“The focus of this conference is to bring to the fore the ever-rising uncertainties in the global economy and the attendant regulatory/operational risks in the areas of increased data security regulations, new partnerships and transforming business models, initiating a fast-changing mix of mounting capital expenditure (CAPEX) burdens, shifting market structures, newly emerging disruption scenarios, regulatory and policy challenges, amongst others,” Danbatta said.
The EVC told participants (both virtual and in-person) that the commission has been at the forefront of ensuring that the industry is not adversely impacted by these risks. “One of our strategic visions is to ensure a competitive market for the communications services that foster fair inclusion of all players, promote local content and innovative services in ways that facilitate new investment, job creation and consumer satisfaction”, he said.
Danbatta called the NDEPS the “guiding document for the Federal Government’s activities”, one aimed at maximising the immense opportunities inherent in digital technologies to nudge the diversification of Nigeria’s economy and attain the key national objectives of improving security, reducing corruption and expanding the economy.
“While risk management has been critical in our regulatory service delivery, we acknowledge that all stakeholders must be concerned about the varied uncertainties that confront the industry. There is no gainsaying that the information and communication technologies sector is inherently filled with several business and technology risks.
“It is, therefore, important that regulatory risks be minimised to ensure that services are not disrupted, and consumers obtain the best and latest services that are globally available. In a bid to ensure that operators in the industry enjoy a conducive operating environment, the commission has sought government interventions and collaborated with other agencies of government in addressing major sectoral risks.
“These risks include cybersecurity and online fraud, regulatory burden, multiple taxations, vandalism of telecommunication infrastructure, right of way challenges, access to foreign exchange, inter-industry indebtedness, among others,” he said.
In his paper ‘X-raying Telecommunications Risk Radar: The Operators’ Perspective’, Eniola Olugboyega, a facilitator at the event, said that risk-taking can have positive or negative impacts on businesses. Also, he stated that the most common losses from improper management of risk in the sector include customer dissatisfaction, fines and litigation, product failure, loss of business opportunities, among others.
According to him, effective risk management aids effective decision-making, prevents financial and reputational losses and addresses potential threats. Thus, telecommunication risks from operators’ perspectives include regulatory risks, insecurity, data breach risk, foreign exchange risk, rising CAPEX risk, human resource risks and the inability to take advantage of new business models.