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Telecoms, ICT Backbone Of Corporate Good Governance – Danbatta



Communication has made great and impressive strides in our national economic landscape over the past 16 years but given advances in communication’s innovations and their impact on the sector, the need of society for communication has become more imperative than it was say in 2001. The advent of broadband, LTE and Internet of Things (IoT) has made the need for focused development more urgent than ever. Adherence to good corporate governance creates a focus on value creation proposition that leads to sustainable growth and stability in the telecom ecosystem.

The World Bank Report of 2017 which saw Nigeria move 24 points in the international ladder on that body’s index on ease of doing business corroborates this point. The Federal Government’s deliberate efforts under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) geared towards creating transparent business investment environment which will be attractive to potential investors gave birth to the initiative on ease of doing business in the plan.

Speaking at a zonal sensitisation workshop on the code of corporate governance for the telecoms industry with the theme, “Telecommunications at the threshold of data revolution, the place of good corporate governance as enabler for its speedy attainment”, in Kano, the executive vice chairman (EVC) of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, identified telecommunication and ICT as the backbone that grow good corporate governance.

He described ICT as pivotal to the growth and sustainability of macroeconomic activities, even as he identified stability and operational integrity as a growth vehicle critical to success, stressing that “communications being the backbone on which that growth will leverage, the telecommunications sector and its regulator have to lead in ways and means that will build the confidence needed to drive the volume of investment and capital that will be needed to not only ensure attainment but sustain it.”

The foregoing, according to the NCC boss, speaks to the central and pivotal role of the telecoms sector to the overall attainment of our national developmental objectives, hence the need for the sector to lead in integrity, transparency, accountability and ethically, which are the values espoused and promoted by the principles of the code. He said: “In appreciation of the relevance of our sector to the attainment of those objectives, the regulator is committed to deliver regulatory excellence and facilitate operational efficiency, geared towards making the sector attractive to drive the level of investment and capital inflow needed.”

He noted that while current evaluation report of the state of the industry suggests that whilst not understating the impact of other external and fiscal issues confronting the sector, most challenges negatively affecting the health of operators in the sector today are attributable to poor governance issues, adding the commission was determined to provide needed regulatory interventions to ensure that the sector effectively discharges its mandates.
“It is currently rejigging its regulatory oversights in the areas of ensuring that consumers get cost effective value for money spent on telecommunication services; and that service delivery by providers are qualitative and efficient. In this regard it had declared the year 2017 as ‘Year of the Telecoms Consumer’ and implemented several initiatives targeted at refocusing the consumer as the fulcrum of the industry.

“Towards empowering the consumer, the commission initiated the Do Not Disturb (DND) facility and the short code 2442 as toll free portal to moderate incidences of unsolicited messages. It also hyped its second level consumer complaint toll-free line short code 622 towards addressing unresolved consumer complaints on service failures. Issues of quality of service and factors affecting it are being aggressively tackled including by means of engagement with the tiers of government to address issues of security, right of way, multiple taxation and multiple regulation, etc.,” he added.

He further said the commission had engaged international consultancies for the review of the mobile termination rate (MTR) and international termination rate (ITR) and also for the determination of cost-based pricing for retail broadband and data services in pursuit of its defined goal of regulatory operational efficiency. According to him, the initiatives are geared towards ensuring transparency in all areas of the telecommunications service value chain by ensuring that tariffs are competitive and fair. Emerging from the cost based study of mobile termination rate, a new rate regime is to come into effect from March 1, 2018.

“The regulator is benchmarking its performance standards to international best practices as a means of bolstering sector and international confidence. It is our expectation that the sector would align fully to these operational standards to consolidate on the gains already attained and further position the sector for even more robust performance.

“The regulator through the corporate governance code seeks strategic collaboration and partnership, as a vehicle for building synergy and trust to boost investor confidence through accountability and disclosure policies. Optimal compliance level could ultimately lead to sector players-self-regulation in due course.”Danbatta further stressed that the ‘Code of Corporate Governance for the Telecommunications Industry’ developed through an industry working group and presented to stakeholders in June, 2014 and was driven on voluntary compliance basis for two years up to June, 2016, is now compulsory for telecom operators, saying: “We are mandating adoption and compliance as no serious corporate entity can claim non-adherence to international best practices or non-adherence to ethical practices. The code only sets a framework to monitor actual compliance.”

Earlier, the chairman of NCC Board, Olabiyi Durojaiye, said globally, sector regulatory agencies and corporate entities had embraced corporate governance as an effective tool for enhancing efficiency and transparency in companies’ day to day activities.“Having studied challenges facing some telecommunication companies, the commission decided to prescribe rules, practices and processes through which organizations could be directed and controlled by a code”, he said.