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Index of efforts that grew digital access in Nigeria by NCC in 2019

A careful review of the corporate sponsorships and partnerships in 2019 by the telecom regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to drive penetration of digital economy in the year under review has shown strong coverage nationwide.

Asides several other interventions since 2015, the Commission in 2019 embarked on such projects Wireless Internet Cloud, Laptop Project, Computer Based Test (CBT) Centres project and ICT Park project. The Wireless Cloud Project is an initiative to provide a platform for supporting campus-wide wireless access to internet service for teaching, learning, research and development to faculty staff and students of the nation’s Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Universities and Hospitals through the provision of the necessary infrastructure, including masts, antennas, networking and twelve (12) months bandwidth supply and maintenance support. During the period under review, the Commission successfully implemented the Wireless Internet Cloud in 150 beneficiary institutions at various locations in the country.

The Laptop Project is an initiative to supply, brand, configure and integrate into the cloud laptop computers with e-learning suites in higher institutions across the country. During the period under review, the Commission successfully implemented the supply of laptops in 230 beneficiary institutions at various locations in the country. In line with NCC’s strategic collaboration & partnerships drive, the Commission is currently implementing the CBT project in Six (6) locations across the Country which includes: FCT, Katsina, Abia, Ondo, Gombe and Anambra States. This is a special intervention Programme by the Commission aimed at establishing state-of-the-art facilities where online examinations can be conducted to entrench efficiency, effectiveness and curb examination malpractices. It is implemented in the 6 Geopolitical Zones in conjunction with the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

The ICT Park is annother initiative by the Commission to establish a fully functional Digital Industrial Complex (DIC) to drive ICT Development and support Technology Start-Ups in beneficiary States and its environs. The Commission is currently building ICT Parks in four (4) locations across the Country, namely Kano, Borno, Ogun and Enugu States.

ITU’s Positive Rating of Nigeria for Regulatory Exploits

As a testament to NCC’s unwavering commitment towards employing cross-sectoral approach and stakeholder collaboration in its regulatory finesse, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2018 rated Nigeria high for continuously exhibiting responsiveness, progress and dynamism in the regulation of its over $70 billion telecommunications industry.

In its ‘2018 ICT Regulatory Tracker’ launched in July, 2019, the United Nation’s telecoms regulatory organisation stated that Nigeria scored 78.33 out of 100 marks benchmark for last year, putting Nigeria 12th among  48 African countries and standing ahead of 36 other. The achievement is coming barely two years after the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the independent telecoms regulatory authority in Nigeria, was acknowledged by ITU as one of the ‘foremost telecoms regulators in Africa.’

In the report, ITU calculates the overall scores from four clusters, namely: Cluster 1- Regulatory Authority (20 marks); Cluster 2-Regulatory Mandate (22 marks); Cluster-3 Regulatory Regime (30 marks); and Cluster 4-Competition Framework.  In each of these four parameters, Nigeria’s regulatory ecosystem scored 17, 20, 20, 21.33, respectively, totaling 78.33, which is above what about 36 countries out of the 48 African countries and a number of countries from other continent recorded, thereby putting Nigeria’s telecoms regulator in a positive rating.

The rating is, however, not surprising because the NCC has continued to regularly hold stakeholder consultations on several regulatory matters; collaborate with national, regional and global telecommunications bodies; sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with other regulatory agencies such as the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Nigeria Police, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (formerly Consumer Protection Council), the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), the GSM Association (GSMA), Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), among others.

Also, regarding ensuring operational efficiency and regulatory excellence, the NCC has continued to carry out a lot of regulatory interventions in delivering on this mandate. For instance, the NCC has intensified compliance monitoring exercises on the licensees, successfully resolved N1.03 trillion fine against MTN which has led to the listing of MTN and Airtel on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

The Commission, under Danbatta, has also promoted corporate governance in the industry, developed a framework for participation in ITU working Groups while we continue to ensure continuous capacity building for our staff for them to understand the dynamics of and trends in telecoms regulations and engage in excellent recruitment processes to get the best expertise for the regulations of industry.

Conclusion

Suffice it to say that since 2015, the leadership of NCC has, despite daunting challenges in the industry, brought forth sound regulatory experience in piloting the affairs of the industry with such a finesse, ingenuity, regulatory excellence and passion. Indeed, the last four years has helped the regulator to consolidate on the growth recorded by his predecessors through effective development and driving of initiatives needed to leapfrog the nation into a fully digital economy. However, there are high expectations that, given the solid foundation already laid in the last four years, consolidating on gains already recorded in the industry, the NCC is poised to achieve more for the overall achievement of digital transformation in the country.