The executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Professor Umar Danbatta, said the commission is vigorously promoting local investment in digital infrastructure and competition in the provision of accessible high speed broadband infrastructure.
The telecom regulator said this will in turn enable the Commission to deliver on the stipulated targets in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025.
Danbatta stated this while delivering a paper entitled, ‘Establishing Rules and Laws for the Effective Implementation of Local Content Promotion Policy in the National Telecoms Sector’ at the maiden Policy Implementation Assisted Forum on the National Policy for Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector (aka PIAFo-001) organised by Messrs. Business Metrics and its partners.
Towards achieving the mandate, the Commission has developed a licensing framework to enable infrastructure companies (INFRACOs) roll out optical fibre cables for communications in the 774 local government areas that make-up the Federation. The Commission also ensures full utilisation of spectrum for deployment of services through Re-farming, Re-planning and Auctioning.
“As we are all aware, the federal government has put in place very robust policy and legal framework for local content within the oil and gas sector. Similarly, the advent of local content in the Nigerian Telecoms sector is probably as old as the Nigerian telecoms revolution itself. The National Telecommunications Policy posited that the domestic production of telecommunications hardware and software is desirable for national development. It further states that, Government shall encourage domestic production of telecommunications equipment, components and software to meet local and export demands,” he said.
In giving legal backing to the above policy direction, the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 identifies, as one of its primary objects the encouragement of local and foreign investments in the Nigerian communications industry.
Danbatta said President Muhammadu Buhari recently presented the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecom Sector (NPPIC). The policy seeks to accelerate the pace of indigenous digital capacity development and thereby enhance national competitiveness and prosperity for indigenous/local players in Nigeria.
As required by the Policy, the Commission has established the Nigeria Office for Developing the Indigenous Telecoms Sector (NODITS). This Office is saddled with the responsibility of implementation of the NPPIC as well as the Executive Orders 003 and 005. Relevant portions of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 as well as the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) are also under the purview of this new office called NODITS.
Other Departments within the Commission are equally saddled with responsibilities that help to inculcate indigenous participation in the telecom sector. Efforts being made by the Research & Development and Licensing Departments are worthy of mention in that regard. Under the auspices of the Research & Development Department, the Commission has sponsored research efforts in several universities across the country.
He said notable areas of research conducted include “Development of All Weather Solar Systems For Energy Optimisation in a Mobile Communications Base Stations” (at Ekiti State University of Technology), “Design and Fabrication of Meta-material Inspired UWB/MIMO Antenna for the 5G-Sub 6GHz Application” (at Taraba State University) and “Intelligent Autonomous Multi-UAVs (Multiple Drones) Swarm Monitoring for Effective Surveillance and Situation Awareness in the Nigerian Telecommunications Industry” (at Gombe State University).
By these activities the Commission seeks to identify with and harness local resources in Nigerian institutions of learning for the benefit of the industry. Through R&D, the Commission has also successfully initiated Professorial Chairs in Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), University of Ibadan, Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) and Bayero University Kano.
This is informed by the need to establish concrete local linkages to deepen the relationship between the telecom industry and the academia in Nigeria; and to provide the missing integration and collaborative partnership required to galvanise qualitative indigenous solutions in telecommunications in Nigeria. R&D also supports the development of local Tech-Hubs and hackathon initiatives aimed at supporting indigenous upstarts, App developers and ICT innovators in general.
The Commission has identified several areas of collaboration with other Agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations such as National Office for Technology Acquisition & Promotion (NOTAP), Small & Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), National Agency for Science & Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Rockefeller Foundation. Equally, there are plans towards direct intervention in line with subsisting policies e.g., in the local production of corrugated optical ducts (COD) to cater for fibre requirements in Nigeria and ultimately for export.