The executive vice chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said the ongoing amendments of two major regulatory instruments of the commission will help in strengthening and ensuring a fair and competitive telecoms market in Nigeria.
He said the public inquiry not only reflected the commission’s strategic mission and vision to promote regulatory excellence through effective regulatory processes but also signposted the commission’s consultative approach to all its regulatory initiatives.
Saying the public inquiry is a precursor to the commission’s current drive for efficiency in spectrum management and the unveiling of next generation services through varied enablers, he pointed out that it was in that regard that the commission issued a spectrum trading guideline (STG) in 2018 to make frequency spectrum readily available to licensees through an effective process.
“Furthermore, the commission has commenced the process of deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) technology in Nigeria the success of which largely depends on the appropriate frequency spectrum. The efficacy and reliability of the initiatives will be hinged on proper market valuation of the frequency spectrum and fair assessment of levies,” he said.
With the explosion in technologies, Danbatta said there had also been an attendant secondary reliance on different approaches to maximise frequency spectrum, leading to the need for designation of several bands of frequency spectrum for communications services with a key illustration being the recent identification of some spectrum frequencies for 5G deployment.
The EVC said the commission was conscious of the expectations and the need to ensure that the required regulatory frameworks were in place to meet the challenges, adding that had made the reviews which the commission was conducting an important milestone as the public inquiry was pushing the country to the front queue of the global efforts.
“Hence, we must be prepared on both ends of the industry to push the country forward for these remarkable changes; while the licensees continue to invest in deployment, the commission will sustain its drive by ensuring regulatory efficiency and excellence,” he said.
Danbatta further acknowledged that the commission was committed to the implementation of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025, the National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy (NDEPS), 2020-2030 by adopting new initiatives and entrenching regulatory efficiency to further promote market stability.
He said the policy documents highlighted the central nature of frequency spectrum in meeting most of their baseline objectives and had made the ongoing review not just necessary but inevitable to facilitate the attainment of the objectives.
A statement by the commission’s director, public affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, named the two regulatory instruments as the Annual Operating Levy Regulations (AOL) and the Frequency Spectrum (Fees and Pricing, etc.) Regulations for which the commission organized the public inquiry today (July 29) in Abuja.
It said: “The first instrument on AOL ensures that all licensees are properly and equitably assessed for the operating levy as well as meeting both statutory and regulatory expectations. Its review is expected to bring the regulations in line with current realities and sustain the enviable contributions of the communications sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The second instrument on frequency spectrum fee and pricing enables the commission to meet its sole and exclusive mandate as enshrined in Section 21 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003 by assigning the scarce national resource in an equitable manner.
“The regulations also guarantee that frequency spectrum are assigned and managed in a way that ensures fair pricing and efficient deployment of attendant services.”
According to Adinde, presentations were made on the comments, inputs and recommendations received from external stakeholders on the two regulatory instruments prior to the public enquiry as well as the amended sections and new provisions made to the two regulations.
He added that participants at the event made valuable contributions and raised issues that would assist the commission in developing robust regulatory instruments to sustain its positive contribution to the nation’s economy.
The public enquiry was attended by the chairman, NCC board of commissioners, Prof. Adeolu Akande; board member, Salman Abdul-Azeez; executive commissioner (technical services), Ubale Maska; executive commissioner (stakeholder management), Adeleke Adewolu; senior management staff and other industry stakeholders.