In line with the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020 – 2025), the Nigeria Communications Commission is providing industry leadership to facilitate the achievement of 90% Broadband penetration by year 2025, and well above 50% at the end of 2023.
This was stated by the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta while delivering the keynote speech at the Talk To The Regulator Forum, NCC`s Annual Consultative Forum With Licensees held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State at the weekend.
According to him, with efforts from the Commission, currently, over a One Hundred and Fifty (I50) million Nigerians have access to internet, while over eighty (80) million can access high speed internet.
“You will agree with me that the telecom industry has witnessed milestones in more ways than one, including the rapid growth in technology, which is redefining service delivery, and creating wide and high expectations from all stakeholders.
“To keep up to date with developments in the industry, the Commission has equally taken measures to improve regulations to accommodate the rapid and continuous development.
He listed the interventions and responses to include, facilitating the Roll-Out of 5G Service provision; Introduction of Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) Licence to bridge the gap between unserved and underserved areas.
The EVC also disclosed that the Commission is currently reviewing the scope and structure of its existing licenses to make them more robust and to accommodate some of the identified new industry trends.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Director, Licensing and Authorization Department, NCC, Mr. Mohammed Babajika said the forum is an annual stakeholder’s consultation forum and was conceptualized to achieve to educate Licensees on their various license obligations; to provide a platform where Licensees can openly discuss challenges experienced in the course of operations and together with the Commission proffer solutions.
“It is also to provide a platform where top Management of the Commission can receive feedback directly from the industry to aid in decision-making; to educate Licensees on topical regulatory issues and obtain feedback on the impact of the Commission’s regulatory policies and to guide in the identification and development of new categories of licences for services not covered by existing licence categories,” he explained.
He added that to assess the impact of emerging trends in the Nigerian telecom space, the Commission recognizes that technological advancements, in the industry such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Network as a Service (NaaS) and Internet of Things (IoT) are redefining service-delivery and therefore in line with global trends, it is currently reviewing its license categories. The Commission has also finalized the framework for Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) and is currently in the process of licensing MVNOs. The licensing of MVNO will improve the telecommunication output of the country, enable the expansion and availability of quality mobile coverage and close the gap to the unserved and underserved population in Nigeria.
“While the Commission is fully committed in discharging its mandate, it can only achieve this with the cooperation and support of Licensees. The Commission therefore recognizes the importance of various service providers and seeks to constantly engage with these service providers and thereby protect the health and growth of the telecoms industry.
The Commission therefore hopes that Licensees will take advantage of this Forum to seek clarifications with respect to any issues such as: license obligations, renewal processes and procedures and emerging trends in the industry. I would like to assure you that the Commission will take your recommendations on-board and will ensure that ideas gleaned are implemented to impact the industry positively.
Also speaking at the forum, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management Mr. Adeleke Adewolu the Communications Sector is indeed the pace-setter sector as far as the expansion of the frontiers for national development is concerned.
This according to him was further underscored by the recent deployment of the Fifth Generation Technology (5G) services in the Country “which we believe will ensure that Nigeria maximises the benefit of the 4th Industrial Revolution whilst being sufficiently prepared for any attendant risk that may occur.
“A market study has shown that the deployment of 5G Technology Services will result in $13.2 trillion in global economic value by 2035, generating 22.3 million jobs in the 5G global value chain alone. Thus, the Commission has played an effective role in placing the nation at a vantage position in order to reap these benefits.
“The exponential growth of the telecommunications sector is largely attributable to effective policies, legal and regulatory framework implemented by the Federal Government the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
“This Forum is thus an opportunity for Critical Stakeholders to share their respective challenges, experiences and also suggest viable solutions to the Regulator. Constant engagement with the Regulator is the path towards regulatory efficiency as it preserves the integrity of the regulatory instruments issued by the Regulator whilst securing the buy-in of all Stakeholders,” he stated.
The Zonal Controller, NCC, Port Harcourt Zonal Office, Venny Eze in his welcome address said the event, is coming at the heels of the licensing of the 5G network, and the effort by stakeholders to ensure the availability, accessibility and affordability of telecommunications services to all Nigerians.
“This event, is the second, in the series of the Nigerian Communications Commission`s engagement with licensees, in the South-South, having held similar forum, in Port Harcourt for the licensees in the South-East and the South-South geopolitical zones in 2021, with a brief hiatus in 2022, due to unforeseen circumstances.
“Today`s event, provides a veritable platform for interaction between the regulator and the licensees, on one hand, and other industry stakeholders, on the other hand. It is a rare occasion that would enable the Commission to identify the challenges confronting the industry from the pragmatic point of view of the industry players.
“In other words, licensees are expected to engage the regulator, through robust discussions, with a view to identifying the various challenges affecting their operations, while making suggestions, requiring regulatory interventions, within the mandate of the NCC.
“As it were, this forum, would afford the Licensees, an opportunity to be educated on topical issues of concern, which would help them comply to the licensing terms and conditions, in the various license categories.
“There is no doubt that the NCC values the views and contributions of its stakeholders. It is our sincere hope that the views and contributions that would arise from this session would aid the Commission in the development and advancement of the telecommunications industry.
The Nigeria Communications Commission, in keeping with its mandate, creates opportunities to interact with its licensees on industry issues and new trends via stakeholder fora, with a view to gathering relevant information that would further advance the development of the industry, while improving regulations and service delivery to telecom consumers.
The ‘Talk-To-The Regulator` Forum is a common platform for non-discriminatory interaction on a one-on-one basis, between the Licensees and the Regulator on several industry issues, pertinent to the Licensees and of national interest.