In this report,CHIMA AKWAJA, looks at the task before the reappointed EVC/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta and projects better days ahead for affordable and pervasive telecommunications services in Nigeria
With Tuesday, July 21, 2020 confirmation
by the Sen- ate of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term reappointment of Prof.
Umar Garba Danbatta as the ex- ecutive vice chairman and chief executive officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the stage is set for accelerated implementation of telecommunications initiatives.
The upper chamber had after a
rigorous assessment of the sec- tor’s growth and development
confirmed Danbatta for anoth- er term of five years following the consideration of the report of Senator Oluremi Tinubu-led Senate Committee on Communications. Danbatta was appointed, in the first instance, for a five-year term in office as the NCC’s EVC/CEO, on August 4, 2015 and was subsequently confirmed by the
Senate on November 25, 2015.
With the Senate confirmation,
Danbatta has received a vote of
confidence to continue to steer
the regulatory activities of Nigeria’s over $70 billion telecommunications industry for another five years towards fast-tracking federal government agenda on digital economy development.
Consolidation On 8-Point Agenda
Danbatta is set to consolidate on
the gains made in the pursuit of
his 8-Point Agenda, which pro- vides a focus for the Commission and the industry as a whole. Focal issues on the agenda include facilitating broadband penetration, improving quality of service, optimising usage and benefits of spectrum, promoting ICT innovation and investment opportunities, facilitating strategic collaboration and partnership, protecting and empowering consumers, promoting fair competi- tion and inclusive growth as well
as ensuring regulatory excellence
and operational efficiency.
Improving Telecom Statistics
Industry statistics show that
NCC’s Strategic Vision Plan
(SVP) for the fiscal years 2015-
2020 under Danbatta, has led
to impressive broadband penetration which rose from a mere
6.0 percent in 2015 to 40.14 per
cent in May, 2020. Active Inter- net subscriptions also increased
from 93 million to over 141 mil- lion currently during the period.
The number of active telephone
subscribers also rose from 150
million in 2015 to 192.32 million in May 2020 with teledensity currently standing at 100.72
percent, following the rebasing
of the teledensity to 91 percent in
The increase in broadband penetration, Internet usage, number
of access to telephone and several other initiatives by the Commission, especially in the areas of
driving tech innovations, creating
employment, promoting digital
inclusiveness, have helped improve the sectors’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution
from 8.50 percent in 2015 to over
11 per cent currently, with a lot
of digital activities taking place
in all the sectors of the economy.
Professor Danbatta is set to consolidate the modest achievements
of the past five years by focusing
on broadband penetration, con- sumer protection and empow- erment, efficient resource utilisation, and facilitation of fibre
Just last Thursday, the NCC boss
led some members of the Federal
Executive Council to conduct a
virtual inauguration of the Kaduna Emergency Communication
Centre (ECC) built by the Commission, alongside five Information Technology projects by
other agencies under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy inaugurated by the
minister, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.
The NCC’s ECC project, which
makes it possible for people of
Kaduna and environs to dial 112
Emergency Number to get help during emergencies from appropriate emergency response agencies, is aimed at supporting the
federal government agenda of
enhancing security of lives and
property in the country.
NCC had built ECC in each of
the 36 states of the federation and
the FCT. Nineteen of the ECC
have been activated while efforts
are ongoing to extend it to other
states. This toll-free number can
help distressed persons access
help from the Police, the Federal Road Safety Corps, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence
Corps, Fire and Ambulance Services, National Emergency Man- agement Agency at no cost.
Rural Connectivity with
Further to the strategic implementation of its 8-Point Agenda,
the Commission has worked relentlessly with the ministry and
National Broadcasting Commis- sion (NBC) to develop Regulatory Guidelines for the utilisation of
television white space (TVWS)
for telecom services deployment.
The framework, which is now
fully in place will help the country to leverage TVWS – unused
broadcast spectrum – to extend
affordable broadband services to
the unserved and under-served
communities in the country.
Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure across 774 LGAs
Also, closely linked to the effort
of Danbatta-led NCC towards
deepening broadband penetration is the Commission’s consistent pursuit of its Open Access
Model (OAM) project aimed at
extending access to digital services across the 774 local government councils in the country
is its plan to license Infrastructure
In its modest quest to bridge the
digital divide, the Commission
put in place this initiative to fasttrack broadband access and take
services to several unserved and
underserved areas of Nigeria with
the implementation of its Open
Access Model, through the InfraCo licensing. More remarkably
pertinent to the digital transformation march is the fact that in
2018, the Commission was able
to increase the number of InfraCo licences to six.
The six InfraCos so far licensed
to drive the deployment of broadband infrastructure across the nation’s six geo-political zones and
Lagos, include Raeana Nigeria Limited for the South-South
Zone; O’dua Infraco Resources
Limited for South-West Zone;
Fleek Networks Limited for
North-West Zone; Brinks Integrated Solutions for North-East
Zone; MainOne Limited for La- gos Zone and Zinox Technolo- gies Limited for the South-East
Zone. The remaining licence for
North Central Zone is being processed, according to the Commission.
As a stimulus to encourage investors of InfraCo to roll out,
NCC is working with the feder- al government, through the ministry, to ensure disbursement of
the counterpart funding to the licensed InfraCos upon attainment
of deployment milestones.
Commitment to Telecombased ICT Innovations
The Danbatta-led leadership
created a Research and Development (R&D) Department for
the Commission in 2016, with
the purpose of synchronising the
various ongoing research activities and other development projects being carried out by the
Commission to help stimulate
and sustain innovations in the
During the lockdown caused by
the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
pandemic, NCC invited entries
from Tech Hubs, Startups and
Innovation Digital SMEs with
promising and adaptable digital solutions that will aid in con- taining the impacts of pandemic and epidemic-prone diseases in the country through a virtual hackathon.