TELECOMS, NCC And Industry Stakeholders Chart New Path To Effective Telecoms Regulation And Growth

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As NCC’s Second Telecoms Leadership Summit takes place in Lagos

In keeping with its tradition and commitment, the Nigerian Telecoms Leadership Summit will engage with stakeholders in the telecom ecosystem in order to pursue proactive regulatory interventions aimed at ensuring an enabling operating environment and improving the investment climate in the Nigerian telecom industry.

The event, held at the Eko Hotels in Victoria Island, Lagos, brought together key industry stakeholders to analyze the existing state of the sector, discuss issues, and design new paths to a more effective and sustainable regulatory system for stability and growth of the Nigerian telecom industry.

Speaking at the occasion, Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NCC, stated that the Summit’s topic, “The Future of Telecom Regulation in Nigeria,” provided a unique opportunity for the Commission to meet with key stakeholders.

According to the EVC, such interaction will allow the Commission to brainstorm and migrate to new horizons of creative laws that will galvanize and support desirable growth in the industry.
Danbatta noted that the COVID-19 pandemic generated global political and socio-economic difficulties, emphasizing the critical significance of digital connectivity in keeping societies running, as online existence became, effectively, a new way of life.

He noted that, as the reliance on digital platforms has grown, the theme of the event has become vital in order to put in place a larger regulatory framework that will strengthen and defend the integrity of the industry in the emerging digital economy.

In this regard, the EVC stated that the NCC will continue to diligently pursue the implementation of policy frameworks such as the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025; and the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, which are consistent with the NCC’s regulatory interventions such as the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024 and Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2021-2025, among others.

According to Danbatta, the primary goal of all policy and regulatory frameworks is to provide a platform for Nigerian citizens to participate in new advances in the telecoms industry and increase the country’s ability to compete in the ever-competitive global space.

Danbatta went on to say that the industry is witnessing new business delivery and breakthroughs due to the growth of the borders of digital Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), particularly fintech and e-commerce enterprises, as a result of the expanding spectrum of the digital ecosystem.

According to the EVC, such relevant ecosystems have led to the growth of the Nigerian digital economy, which is based on telecom infrastructure.

Danbatta correctly predicted that digital services and content produced by these SMEs will rely on broadband infrastructure and the impending deployment of the Commission’s Fifth Generation (5G) network to give more innovative and high-quality experiences to consumers.

“The Commission’s successful auction and licensing of the 3.5GHz spectrum licences for the deployment of 5G technology in the fourth quarter of 2021 is set to create many opportunities for the industry’s development, and as a regulator, we are aware that a dynamic regulatory environment is required to sustain this industry growth,” Danbatta said.

“As a result, it has become necessary for us, as critical stakeholders, to assess our success as an industry and map a route for the future of the telecoms business in the country,” he said. The EVC also stated that one of the industries that have benefited from the digital transformation in the financial services industry.

Extending on the EVC’s position, Dr Ademola Sogunle, Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic IBTC, asserted in his keynote address titled “The Future of Telecom Regulation in Nigeria: Challenges of Access to Funding,” that the telecommunications industry had become the sustaining stimulus of the post-pandemic era as consumers’ behaviours continued to shift towards digital trends. According to Danbatta, the telecom sector’s contribution continues to assist the overall ecosystem.

While reviewing the resolutions of the first Summit, held in 2019, Yetunde Akinloye, Director, Policy, Competition, and Economic Analysis, NCC, stated that the Commission had implemented the recommendations of that meeting, which included an Executive Order on Duplicity of Taxes and Levies, and Harmonization of Right of Way (ROW) fees.

Other recommendations implemented, according to her, include addressing interconnect debt, reviewing the framework on interconnect clearinghouses to ensure 10% of traffic is routed through clearinghouses, providing incentives to small operators, and monitoring compliance with the Code of Corporate Governance.

To build on the momentum of the previous industry leadership engagement, this year’s Summit gave telecom CEOs the opportunity to meet the EVC and top management of the Commission at a roundtable for deeper thinking and greater reflection on the sector’s challenges and to propose meaningful solutions.

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Gbenga Elebiyo

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