NCC Boosts Broadband Penetration From 6% In 2015 To 45% In 2021

By Moses Ebosele, ebosele@hotmail.com  —

The Nigerian Communication Commission  (NCC) has grown broadband penetration in Nigeria from less than 6% in 2015 to 45% in 2021. 

Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta disclosed the development on Tuesday in his key note speech at a panel session during the 2021 virtual conference and exhibition on information communication and technology organised by the Lagos Chamber of commerce and Industry (LCCI). 

 Danbatta said: “There still exist access gaps which the Commission is making efforts to bridge. It is noteworthy that the hitherto existing access gaps of 217 identified in the country have been reduced to 114 through increased collaboration between the Commission and stakeholders in the telecom ecosystem. Hence, the InfraCo project being implemented by NCC and other similar regulatory initiatives which has PPP component are in line with policy expectations of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025; the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030; the NCC Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, as well as a number of regulatory instruments and frameworks which envisioned the PPP model as a central organising principle for fast-tracking the development of Nigeria’s telecoms industry.  

“Besides, the NCC is renowned for its tradition of engaging in robust stakeholder consultation on the development of its various regulations and policy initiatives. The Commission consistently engages private sector organisations, in clear expression of its PPP philosophy, to carry out specific tasks, notably, in carrying out cost-based studies, whose outcomes have been used by the Commission to improve regulations and policy decision that have far-reaching positive implications on the economy.   

 The Commission has also engaged in a number of PPP engagement through such initiatives as Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF), a multi-sectoral committee of private and public sector institutions whose collaboration with the Commission has bolstered Commission’s determination to continually improve on all principles of protection of telecoms consumers from an array of service challenges as well as incidences of frauds and other associated risks of online transactions.  

 In a concrete expression of belief in the centrality of PPP principles, the NCC, in November 2020, created a ‘PPP Unit’ as a division under its Special Duties Department. The Unit is overseeing the implementation of the NCC’s revenue assurance solutions (RAS) as well as the Device Management System (DMS) project. The two projects are being implemented in collaboration with private sector players. While the RAS is intended to address the revenue leakages accruable to the government, through the NCC; the DMS is intended to address the issue of type approval of telecom equipment and devices to ensure originality and standardisation because of the implication of substandard devices for health and quality of service. The DMS is also instituted to tackle the problem of SIM boxing and call masking, which not only constitutes threat to national security but also a mark of anti-competitive practice in the telecoms sector and a basis for loss of revenue in tax remittances to the government.  

  However, despite the various PPP interventions being undertaken by the government and similar initiatives at the Commission, a number of challenges persist in the telecom ecosystem. These include multiple taxation and regulation, Right of Way (RoW) issue, vandalism, poor electricity supply, and lately worsening insecurity. All of these factors affect both the tempo and quality of infrastructure rollout by the private sector licensees, who are the main engine of growth in the telecom sector. These challenges also affect the quality of telecom services and by extension the Quality of Experience (QoE) of telecom consumers.  

 Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I therefore, urge our panel of eminent speakers to suggest better and more innovative PPP approaches that may be explored by the government towards making our telecoms infrastructure safer, more resilient, more robust, and how we may attract more investment into the sector. There is no gainsaying the fact that the next frontier for enriching digital economy globally, is through sustained investment in broadband or high-speed Internet access.  

I will like to reiterate that the Commission is committed to continuously engaging relevant stakeholders, both in the public and private sectors, in the country and beyond, in order to ensure that appropriate infrastructure befitting a modern digital economic system is available in the country to deepen government’s determination and commitment to total digital transformation of services in the country.  

 Finally, once again, I congratulate the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) for its consistency in organising ICTEL despite the challenges imposed by the raging pandemic. I cannot overemphasise the appropriateness and relevance of the theme of this forum. I urge you not to rest on your oars and I assure you of our continued collaboration as much as the social and economic realities permit.