Africanxt Confab Objective Aligns With NCC’s Vision Of Technology-Driven Prosperity For The Continent

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As Danbatta pledges to sustain participation and support for the Conference

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reaffirmed its belief in the AfricaNEXT Conference’s (AfricaNXT) vision of “co-creating a prosperous future for all Africans” through collaborations, conversations, and programming focused on harvesting, harnessing, and leveraging innovative technologies.

“The AfricaNXT conference’s visualisations and concrete actions are consistent with NCC’s belief in the promise of technology to catalyze Nigeria’s, nay Africa’s, growth.” This explains our continuous participation and support at the Conference, which is now in its tenth year, and we will continue to play active roles in this annual event in Lagos.”

Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, stated this with unmistakable conviction during a chat with the Commission’s in-house media team last week, ahead of preparations by the Commission’s delegation to the Confab which will take place from 27th February to 4th March 2022.

The EVC regretted his inability to lead NCC’s delegation to the Conference because he is already slated to play a key governmental and institutional role at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2022, organised by GSM Association. The Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest and most influential forum and exhibition by stakeholders in the mobile technology ecosystem, takes place in Barcelona annually in the same week AfricaNXT happens in Lagos.

The AfricaNXT Conference, formerly known as Social Media Week Lagos, is the largest gathering of innovators from throughout Africa and the Diaspora. The NCC has been a frequent fixture of AfricaNXT’s conference and festival as a consistent programming partner. Despite the fact that the COVID-19 outbreak forced the organizers to hold a low-key, entirely virtual meeting in 2021, the 2020 conference drew over 20,000 participants (both in-person and virtually). The NCC’s discussion at the 2020 conference focused on Fifth Generation technology and services, with experts explaining 5G, which was a foreign concept to many at the time.

At the AfricaNXT 2022, the NCC will take the discourse on 5G further in a more pragmatic context in view of the progress achieved over the past two years.

The thematic focus for its panel of discussants is, “MOVING FORWARD STEADILY, TIMELY AND WITH PRECISION: THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANCE OF DEPLOYMENT OF 5G SERVICES”. Participants will have the opportunity to glean the benefits of 5G services to individuals, businesses, and the nation, with positive implications for the Continent as Nigeria, matches steadily to become the first country in West Africa to deploy 5G technology services.

The journey to the birth of 5G services in Nigeria started in 2019. Between then and now, the Nigerian Communications Commission has been upbeat in rallying stakeholders to forge all necessary partnerships, collaborations and alliances. There have been numerous stakeholders’ consultations (including an all-inclusive, robust public hearing at the National Assembly; and a presentation to the Federal Executive Council). The NCC also instituted a communications campaign, that pivoted on public information and education, especially in the vortex of misconceptions, misinformation, disinformation and misinformation about 5G.

Following the approval by the Federal Government, a Proof of Concept trial demonstrating the possibilities of 5G took place in some cities in Nigeria. The NCC, in collaboration with stakeholders, equally developed an Information Memorandum, which was reviewed by all stakeholders, following which a policy on 5G was instituted by the Federal Government. The policy was unveiled to the public by President Muhammadu Buhari on 25 January 2022.

Armed with an extant approval, the NCC also had earlier conducted a globally-acclaimed auction of the 3.5GHz spectrum on 13 December 2021. The spectrum is to be used to deploy 5G services. The bid was won by two communications companies and licensees of the NCC – Mafab Communications and MTN Nigeria. Just a few days ago, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, officially handed to NCC the spectrum for 5G services for allocation to the winners of the bid.

At the handover ceremony, which took place at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on 17th February 2022, Prof. Danbatta puts the status of implementation of 5G services metaphorically and figuratively by stating that “the coast is now clear” for the launch of 5G services in Nigeria.

As a result, despite having met all of the prerequisites for the deployment of 5G services in Nigeria, the NCC, known for its operational efficiency and regulatory efficacy, is not resting on its laurels in terms of public education and information sharing. It is for this reason that the Commission is utilizing AfricaNXT, a unique, seminal, and historic gathering of practical innovators and development enthusiasts, to expand 5G expertise within its ever-growing geography of stakeholders.

The NCC discourse at the AfricaNXT 2022 will take place at the FutureNow Stage, Innovation Pavilion, Landmark Event Centre, Water Corporation Drive, Off Ligali Ayorinde Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. The session will start at 2.00 p.m. prompt on Thursday, March 3, 2022.

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