L-R: Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Reuben Muoka; Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Kano Chapter, Aminu Garko; Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC, Ubale Maska; Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta; Head, Women and Children Department, Nasara Radio, Aisha Abdulmalik and Head of Station, Rahma Radio/TV Abuja, Nafiu Yahaya, during an interactive session with media stakeholders in Kano at the weekend (Saturday, September 16, 2023).
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is really focused on making sure that lots of people in the country can use the internet. They set a goal to have 70% of people connected to the internet by the year 2025, and now they are promising that 50% of people will have it by the end of 2023.
The person in charge of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, talked about this promise during a special meeting with important people in the media from the northern part of Nigeria. He also mentioned that 500,000 people have already signed up for the super-fast 5G internet.They have been working really hard to make this happen, and as of July 2023, almost 47% of people have access to the internet.
Danbatta talked about how they have a plan with five important parts to make all of this work, and they’ve achieved 119 different goals under these five parts. These include making sure the rules are good for the telecom companies, getting more people connected to the internet, helping the market grow, boosting the digital economy, and working closely with others to make it all happen.
He’s really proud of all the progress they’ve made since he started leading the NCC in 2015, and he thanked everyone who helped them reach these important milestones in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria.
“While we acknowledge the challenges encountered by the industry, we have also witnessed explosive growth, improved regulatory standards, and digital innovations that have garnered global recognition,” he said.
When talking about the amazing things that have happened while he’s been leading the NCC since 2015, the person in charge (EVC) shared some really cool numbers.
He said that the number of people with active telephones has gone up a lot, from less than 150.7 million to 218.9 million. That’s a big jump, like when you add lots of new friends to your toy collection! It means more people can talk to each other using phones.
Also, he talked about something called “teledensity,” which is like a special way to measure how many people have phones. Back in 2015, it was 107.87%, and now it’s even higher at 115.70%. So, even more people in Nigeria have phones now!
They’ve been working hard to make the internet faster and reach more places in the country. In 2015, only 6% of people had fast internet (broadband), but now it’s much better at 47.01%. This means almost half the people in Nigeria can use the internet more easily.
And not just that, they also said that almost 90 million people use the internet on their phones with 3G, 4G, and 5G networks. It’s like having a super-fast playground for the internet!
In 2015, there were less than 100 million people using the internet, but now it’s grown to 159.5 million. So, more and more people are exploring the fun world of the internet in Nigeria
“Also, from 8 per cent contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015, telecommunications sector now contributes 16 per cent quarterly to the Nigerian economy as of the second quarter of 2023. besides, following the authorization of more telecommunications companies to operate in the Nigeria’s telecoms sector, the investments profile has increased tremendously from $38 billion in 2015 to $75 billion currently and this keeps growing daily. From the sales of Fifth Generation (5G) C-Band Spectrum, the NCC has generated over $847.8 million for the Federal Government,” he said.
Danbatta, who has won many awards from all over the world for doing such a great job with Nigeria’s telecom industry, also talked about a bunch of things that his team has accomplished since 2015.
“Other milestones and initiatives recorded aside the regulatory activities that culminated in the landmark launch of 5G services in Nigeria include the introduction of Spectrum Trading Guidelines, re-farming and re-planning certain spectrum band for efficiency, the emplaced collaborative process for the release of C-Band Spectrum by Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited, and introduction of the Expanded Revenue Assurance Solution (ERAS) to address revenue leakages and improve government revenue from the telecoms industry.
“These initiatives also include Licensing of Satellite Earth Stations, issuing of operating licence to SpaceX Satellite, facilitating the landing of additional submarine Cables, such as the Google 2,000km Equiano subsea Internet cable in 2022, listing of MTN on the Nigerian bourse, licensing of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), introduction of new unlicensed millimeter wave spectrum, and regulation of white space spectrum,” Danbata said.
Under Danbatta’s leadership at NCC, they’ve done some really special things. They’ve given money to universities in Nigeria to create special professor positions, like really important teacher jobs. They’ve also given more than 500 million naira to do research and make new discoveries in the telecoms world. It’s like they’re helping to make things better and smarter in the world of phones and internet
“The creation of the Digital Economy Department, the mandate to drive the implementation of the indigenous telecoms sector growth through the operation of the Nigeria Office for Developing Indigenous Telecom Sector (NODITS), are also important strides made by the Commission,” he said.
Danbatta emphasized that the Commission’s commitment to consumer-focused initiatives extends beyond their Emergency Communications Centres (ECCs) in over 30 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as well as the establishment of the Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), all of which are fully operational. These two initiatives, according to the EVC, play a vital role in providing assistance to consumers during emergencies and ensuring robust online protection for telecom consumers.
Furthermore, the NCC Chief Executive highlighted that the Commission has taken significant and transparent measures in the realms of consumer protection, advocacy, information-sharing, and education.
“These include introduction of data roll-over just before the expiration of subscribed data plans, introduction of the 622 toll-free number for lodging service-related complaints to the Commission, the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code for tackling the menace of unsolicited text messages, elimination of forceful/deceitful subscriptions to telecom services on mobile networks, tackling the issue of call masking, ensuring effective Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) registration, launching of National Roaming service and reduction of access gaps to telecom services from over 217 to 97, thereby enhancing access to telecom services by more Nigerians,” Danbatta said.
Nonetheless, Danbatta acknowledged that the telecommunications industry continues to grapple with various challenges, including issues like vandalism, the struggle to secure fair Right of Way (RoW) agreements with government entities, and the burden of multiple taxation and regulations. Nevertheless, he stressed that the Commission has established a comprehensive framework designed to collaborate closely with essential stakeholders in order to address and surmount these obstacles. The objective is to maintain the remarkable growth momentum that has characterized the telecoms sector, serving as a catalyst for socio-economic development in Nigeria.