NCC, Stakeholders Chart New Path To Effective Telecoms Regulation, Industry Growth

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NCC Summit Lagos
The executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta (middle) flanked by NCC officials/participants during the summit in Lagos.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and stakeholders in the telecom ecosystem brainstormed in Lagos to pursue proactive regulatory interventions targeted at ensuring an enabling operating environment and improving the investment climate in the Nigerian telecom industry.

The event, the second edition of the Nigerian Telecoms Leadership Summit, hosted by the commission, in line with its tradition and commitment to engage with stakeholders, had an assemblage of key industry players with the central objective to analyse the current state of the sector, process the issues, and chart new pathways to a more effective and sustainable regulatory regime for the stability and growth of the Nigerian telecom industry.

Speaking at the event, the executive vice chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said that the theme of the summit, “The Future of Telecom Regulation in Nigeria,” presented a unique opportunity for the commission to interact with critical stakeholders.

Through such interaction, the EVC said, the commission would be able to brainstorm and migrate to new frontiers of visionary regulations to galvanise and foster desired growth in the industry.

Danbatta explained that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered political and socio-economic uncertainties globally and underscored the crucial role of digital connectivity in keeping societies functioning, as online life became, essentially, new.

He stated that with the increased dependence on digital platforms, the theme of the event had become necessary to put in place a broader regulatory framework to enhance and protect the integrity of the industry in the emergent digital economy.

In this context, the EVC said the NCC will continue to diligently pursue the implementation of policy frameworks such as the Nigeria National Broadband Plan  (NNBP) 2020-2025 and the National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 which are consistent with NCC’s regulatory interventions, especially the commission’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024 and Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2021-2025, among others.

Danbatta said all the policy and regulatory frameworks principally seek to provide a platform for Nigerian citizens to engage in innovative developments for the telecoms industry and improve the nation’s ability to compete in the ever-competitive global space.

Explaining further the transformation happening as a result of the expanding spectrum of the digital ecosystem, Danbatta said the industry is witnessing new business delivery and breakthroughs due to the expansion of boundaries of digital small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially fintech and e-commerce firms. The EVC said those consequential ecosystems have contributed to the growth of the Nigerian digital economy riding on telecom infrastructure.

Danbatta aptly reckoned that digital services and content provided by these SMEs will leverage broadband infrastructure and the upcoming deployment of the Fifth Generation (5G) network being driven by the commission to deliver more innovative and high-quality experiences to consumers.

“The commission’s successful auction and licensing of the 3.5GHz spectrum licences in the last quarter of 2021 for the deployment of 5G technology is set to create many opportunities for the development of the industry and as a regulator, we are conversant with the fact that a dynamic regulatory environment is needed to sustain this industry growth.

“Therefore, it has become imperative for us, as critical stakeholders, to appraise the progress made so far as an industry and chart the course for the future of the telecoms industry in the country,” he stated. The EVC also informed that the financial services sector is one of those positively impacted by the digital transformation.

Amplifying the EVC’s position in his keynote address “The Future of Telecom Regulation in Nigeria: Challenges of Access to Funding”, the
chief executive officer of Stanbic IBTC, Dr. Ademola Sogunle, asserted that the telecommunications industry had become the sustaining stimulus of the post-pandemic era as consumers’ behaviours continue to shift toward digital trends.

While reviewing resolutions of the first edition of the summit held in 2019, the commission’s director, policy, competition and economic analysis, Yetunde Akinloye, said the commission had implemented the recommendations of that meeting, including the Executive Order on Duplicity of Taxes and Levies and the Harmonization of Right of Way (ROW) fees.

She said other recommendations implemented included the addressing of interconnect debt, review of the framework on interconnect clearinghouses to ensure 10 per cent of traffic is routed through clearinghouses, incentives for small operators as well as monitoring compliance with the Code of Corporate Governance.

A statement by the commission’s director of public affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said to sustain the momentum from the previous industry leadership engagement, this year’s summit provided the chief executives of companies in the telecom sector an opportunity to meet the EVC and top management staff of the commission at a roundtable for deeper thinking and greater reflection on the challenges in the sector and proffer meaningful solutions.

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