Nigeria has made some significant success in the drive toward enthroning the national digital economy for the country.
This comment stemmed from the presentation of Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Nigerian Communications Commission, during his keynote lecture at the Nigeria DIGITALSENSE symposium on Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) in Lagos.
Danbatta, represented by the NCC’s Head of Spectrum Administration, Engr. Abraham Oshadame, praised the event’s organizer for bringing together various stakeholders and key representatives from the telecommunications sector to exchange ideas that will foster growth and innovation in the industry, especially as they enter the era of ultra-high-speed internet access that 5G provides.
He added that the event’s topic, “5G Enthronement in Nigeria’s Telecoms Sector,” is timely due to the Nigerian Communications Commission’s strategic and vital role in the implementation of Government policies that strive to stimulate growth and innovation in the telecoms industry.
According to him, this is evident in the Commission’s efforts to ensure the smooth acceptance of earlier technologies (2G, 3G, and 4G) as well as those being implemented to enable the deployment and adoption of 5G infrastructure and services in Nigeria.
According to the EVC, unlike earlier generations of mobile networks, the fifth generation (5G) technology is projected to radically redefine the role of telecommunications technology in society.
“5G is undoubtedly expected to enable greater economic growth and pervasive digitisation of a hyper-connected society, in which not only humans are connected to the network whenever needed, but also many other devices/things, resulting in a smart society with nearly everything connected” (i.e. Internet of Everything).
“5G technology will also improve mobile broadband with very low latency, enabling new use cases such as virtual reality, augmented reality, quantum computing, smart city projects, and mission-critical operations,” he added.
He stated that realizing the full potential of this promising technology entails significant socio-economic benefits as well as responsibilities.
He emphasized the importance of vigorous collaboration between government and non-government entities in order to produce targeted policies, a strong regulatory framework, and resilient networks.
He went on to say that in order to assure readiness in the telecoms business, particularly with regard to the adoption of anything new, such as emerging International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) technologies like 5G (IMT 2020), various essential stakeholders must collaborate. He highlighted some of these key stakeholders as follows: The government (Policymakers).
National Regulatory Authorities (Regulators), Network Operators, and Consumers are all involved. Organizations based on industry (like Digital Sense for example).
The NCC chief explained that these stakeholders are critical to unlocking the vast potential of 5G, emphasizing that this potential can be realized through collaboration and partnership with various stakeholders in the telecoms industry ecosystem, as well as the implementation of robust government policies and an excellent regulatory framework.
“Within any administration, the Government is needed to put in place excellent policies that support innovation and development,” he says. As policymakers, the government should consider conducting its own independent economic and social assessment and viability of deploying new technologies (such as 5G in this case) in order to provide clear regulatory direction that will allow all relevant stakeholders, including network operators, to make informed decisions that will ensure the deployment of these technologies in the most beneficial manner to the Nation and its citizens.
“Today, as some of you may know, in Nigeria, the Government has already developed some policy documents such as the Nigerian Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS 2020 – 2030) which aims to accelerate the National Digital Economy for a Digital Nigeria. The objectives of this document amongst others include; Developmental Regulation, Digital Literacy & Skills, Solid Infrastructure, Digital Service Development and Promotion, and Digital Society & Emerging Technologies. “Government has also developed a Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020 – 2025) which has a target to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (i.e. 2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage).
“In order to meet these lofty goals, the strategy focuses on four important pillars: infrastructure, policy, funding, and incentives.” Similarly, a National Policy on Fifth Generation (5G) Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy was developed to address the provision of the necessary spectrum and the enabling environment to ensure full deployment of 5G technology to effectively cover major urban areas by 2025, as well as to ensure the security of the 5G ecosystem and data protection, amongst other things.”
“On the other side, regulators are to primarily build regulatory framework and standards for the telecoms business,” the EVC continued. They also develop action plans and methods for implementing government policies, such as strong regulation to ensure a competitive market, an environment-focused compliance monitoring and enforcement mechanism, market-based spectrum access mechanisms, broadband facilitation and penetration, capacity development, and strategic collaboration and partnership with relevant state and non-state actors. The regulators are also expected to interact and support the exchange of similar ideas, points of view, and experiences among industry professionals by providing adequate routes for regular participation in relevant Conferences, Fora, Symposia, and Workshops.
“In terms of operators, they must continue to invest in new infrastructure and capabilities, think more creatively, develop and design unique business models, and enhance their insights from different partners, geographies, and sectors.” It is critical that companies combine their next-generation networks, which will provide the necessary flexibility to support development and innovation in the mobile communications ecosystem.
“As a regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has already acknowledged the unique benefits and significance of IMT technology, particularly 5G services, in achieving the government’s Digital Economy objectives.”
“The Commission has prepared a Strategic Vision Plan (SVP 2021-2025) to ensure the execution of well-developed policies by the government.” The SVP aims to achieve, among other things, “organizational renewal for operational efficiency and regulatory excellence; facilitation of infrastructure provision for the digital economy that encourages national development; fair competition; and facilitation of strategic collaboration and partnership.”
According to this SVP, he stated that the Commission, in collaboration and with the full support of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, led by the Honourable Minister, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has achieved significant success in the drive toward a National Digital Economy for a Digital Nigeria.
Among his accomplishments were the following:
1. Establishment of a full-fledged Digital Economy Department tasked, among other things, with ensuring that the programs and targets outlined in the NNBP 2020-2025 and NDEPS 2020 – 2030 are rigorously pursued, tracked, and met.
2.INFRACO Companies have been authorised to deploy fiber on an open-access basis in the country’s six geopolitical zones and Lagos State. The start date for the rollout has been set for April 2021.
3. Developed and obtained Federal Executive Council approval for the Nigerian 5G Policy to guide 5G service deployments in Nigeria. All credit goes to Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy.
2 packages of 100 MHz bandwidth in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band were successfully licensed for 5G deployment in December 2021.
5. Established and increased the Internet Exchange Point capacity of 930 MB/s for the Abuja-Lagos route, 620 MB/s for the Abuja-Kano route, and 310 MB/s for the Lagos-Port Harcourt route.
6. Landed a total Offshore Broadband Capacity of 50.74 TB, comprised of 40TB Submarine and 10.74 TB Satellite, with the figures poised to rise even as we speak.
7. Researched worldwide industry trends in 5G spectrums such as the WRC-19-harmonized 26 GHz, 38 GHz, and 42 GHz bands.
8. Revised the National Frequency Allocation Table (NFAT) to reflect the WRC-19 decision.
9. Activated the 60 GHz V-band.
10. The 70/80GHz E-band is now available for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint deployments.
11. Among other advantages, we developed and published the Spectrum Trading Guidelines.