The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta has emphasized the critical role of data centres in the country’s digital economy.
He stated this at the at the fourth telecommunications sector sustainability forum, held in Lagos last week.
The event themed: ‘Mainstreaming Data Centres in the Nigerian Digital Economy’ brought together stakeholders to discuss the opportunities and challenges of data centre services.
The EVC who was represented by Head, Tariff Administration at NCC, Dr. Sunday Atu highlighted the growing significance of data in the global digital economy, stating that “data is the new oil.”
He commended the forum for choosing the theme of “Mainstreaming Data Centres in the Nigerian Digital Economy,” as data centres play a crucial role in improving the security and reliability of the nation’s digital infrastructure.
Their centralized architecture provides greater protection against malicious attacks and unauthorized access to sensitive information.
The Executive Vice Chairman also noted recent developments in the African data centre market, with global tech giants like Google and Meta (parent company of Facebook) investing in subsea fibre cables to increase connectivity and generate economic output.
Professor Danbatta emphasized the need for national policy and regulatory frameworks to localize traffic and data, ensuring digital sovereignty.
Highlighting Nigeria’s potential to attract foreign investment in data centres, Danbatta stated that the country is well-positioned to tap into the global data centre market, worth billions of dollars.
He emphasized the role of data centres in job creation, particularly in the construction, operation, and maintenance of these facilities.
With the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), he emphasized the increasing importance of data centres in facilitating greater productivity and competitiveness for businesses and public sector entities.
“Sharing critical resources at lower costs within the AfCFTA continental block can unlock opportunities from the estimated $1.2 trillion latent treasure,” he said.
On broadband the EVC said NCC recognizes the place of Broadband infrastructure and technology in interconnectivity and its impact on national development, increased content and social inclusion. Therefore policy and regulatory initiatives had been geared towards public investment in broadband backbone networks through harmonization of RoW charges and the allocation of more spectrum for existing mobile and 5G technologies.
“With the recognition of the new place of data within the ecosystem, the Commission had proactively taken steps leading to an active functioning market that brought about competition and improved quality of service, with appropriate regulatory measures to guide the industry in determining a cost based transmission trunk link rates and mobile access networks.
“We have also carried out extensive assessment of the broadband value chain, including the analysis of market features such as ecosystem mapping, pricing, technology, regulatory climate and competition.
These efforts according to him have led to reduction in data prices in the mobile sector including rapid expansion of non-voice service portfolios that created new revenue streams for network and data centre operators.
“Infrastructure outsourcing and collocation that created a positive impact on operators’ profitability with increased expansion to underserved rural areas towards increased user experience and greater data capture and more spectrum release for 5G services to further lower costs of providing mobile broadband services.
“Additionally, the recent conclusion of the framework and licensing of Mobile Virtual Network Operators represents another big bang in the industry after the launch of GSM in 2001.
“This is expected to engender greater expansion, more reach and additional choice to consumers in addition to enhanced service uptake on Data Centre Operations. Digital platforms are expected to rapidly expand and stimulate the digital ecosystem across e-commerce, banking, education, entertainment, health and government.
“There have also been increased rollout of Fibre infrastructure across metropolitan areas, especially Fibre-to-Base stations required to support the surge in bandwidth demand.
He however said Data Centre operators are not immune to the overwhelming challenges confronting the industry that ranges from digital literacy, poor power supply, multiple taxation and regulations at different levels of government as well as the recent deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector and the attendant subsidy removal, coupled with the exchange rate harmonization.
“The transformation in the Nigerian macro-economy underpinned by developments in the broadband space such as subscriber growth, improvements in digital literacy and the proliferation of relevant content, all point to positive fundamentals for the Broadband Landscape in Nigeria.
“These factors combined with the increasing global recognition of broadband as a critical infrastructure and socio-economic tool for national growth present an imperative for Nigeria to sharpen its focus on broadband development and increasing support for Data Centre Services in Nigeria,” he said.