The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC Prof Umar Danbatta recently paid a courtesy visit to Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun as part of his mission to strengthen relationships between the agency and other stakeholders.
He enumerated the followings as his mission .
1. WHY ARE WE HERE
To share with you our vision and mission as provided forby the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 as well as the National ICT Policy and to solicit the buy-in of the Government and people of Ogun State. These instrumentsempowerNCC to regulate the telecommunications sector in Nigeria in line with global best practices.
Whereas the sector experienced total deregulation in the year 2000, the actual revolution in the telecommunications sector in Nigeria began in 2001 with the licensing of Digital Mobile Operators. The licences issued empowered the operators to provide digital mobile services via the Global System of Mobile communications (GSM) and other technologies.
Following from the success of this gambit, the sector has grownimmenselyandthe Commission’s current statistics indicate a mobile teledensity in excess of 107 percent and about 150 million active subscribers on the various mobile networks.
Your Excellency, laudable as the above scorecard is, NCC still believes that the best is yet to come. Part of the reason for our visit is to intimate Your Excellencyon a new revolution to make internet available at every point and region of Nigeria, i.e providing internet to the served, the underserved and the unserved areas using our anticipated broadband penetration.
2. NCC’S 8 – POINT AGENDA & BROADBAND PENETRATION
In the above regard, we draw your attention to the Commission’s 8-point agenda recently launchedin sync with the Policy direction of the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari. A cardinal thrust of the Agenda is to create the environment for broadband to thrive in line with the Federal Government National Broadband Plan (NBP) (2013-2018). It is anticipated that broadband penetration will rise from its present 10% to 30% by the year 2018.
We havemade steady progress with the licensing of companies through the 2.3GHz spectrum band won by Bitflux Consortium. The consortium has begun to offer broadband services.The Commission hasalso offered licences to two Infrastructure Companies (Infracos)for Lagos and North Central zones respectively and we have five more licenses in this category to cover the South West, South East, South South, North East and North West zones. The process for this has begun.
Only recently we concluded auction for the 2.6GHz broadband spectrum and the licenses will be issued in due course.
Indeed, your Excellency, the NCC has lived up to its bidding by its transparent activities in managing the telecoms sector in Nigeria, which is the more reason why it was declared in Accra, Ghana as the Africa Regulator of the Year. We will tell our story another day but let me assure you that we will not fail in our obligation as contained in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.
3. OUR CONCERNS AND WORRIES
In spite of the modest achievements, Your Excellency, we have our concerns and worries about the continuous growth of the sector.These worries and concerns stem from the threat to telecommunications operationsin various States.
There have been recurring cases of multiple taxation which threaten the operators and by extension telecommunications services.There have also been issues of Right of Way (RoW) approvals to telecom companies.
Various tiers of Government, including Local Council and State Government Agencies have created enormous challenges to the sector and some of these agencies often threaten to shut down Base Transceivers Stations (BTSs) over alleged refusal of the Telecoms companies (Telcos) to comply with a tax regime which the operators see as grossly excessive and at times inappropriate.
The operators are in a dilemma and because of this, expansion of the networks is heavily stifled. There is also the challenge of vandalism and pilfering of telecoms equipment.
Your Excellency, these are real issues that require pragmatic approach if they are to be addressed for the common good of nation building.
In the previous Government, the then Minister of Communications initiated a move that led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) covering all these issues but the provisions of the MOU are not being adhered to.
Indeed, Your Excellency, the resolution of the National Economic Council (NEC) ofMarch 21, 2013 properly addressed the problems of multiple taxation, levies and charges on ICT Infrastructure with a view to providing a lasting solution. Incidentally, these resolutions are largely honoured more in the breach than in their observance hence the precarious situation has not changed.
It is in the light of the foregoing that I decided to lead my team to share these worries with you, Your Excellency and your brother Governors with a view to finding a permanent solution to these problems.
YourExcellency, permit me to reiterate the contribution of the Telecommunications sectorto the overall growth of the National Economy and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For instance, the figures released by the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS) in June, 2016 showed that despite the negative growth rate of the nation’s economy by -0.36 percent for the first quarter of 2016 the telecommunications sector recorded an increase to GDP of 0.5 percent to raise its contribution to 8.83 percent in the first quarter of 2016. We are optimistic that this pattern of growth will continue by the end of the year 2016.
As a foremost Accountant and financial expert and a Fellow of Chartered Institute of Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN (FCA), Your Excellencysure hasperfect knowledge and appreciation of the figures and statistics. We therefore seize this opportunity to appeal to you to kindly prevail on your colleagues to show some understanding and help this sector to grow and impact on the socio-economic development of our nation.
4. NCC’s PRESENCE IN OGUN STATE
Your Excellency, NCCis proud of its presence in and contribution to the advancement of education in Ogun State over the years. Under the Commission’s initiatives of Advanced Digital Awareness Programme for Tertiary Institution (ADAPTI), Digital Awareness Programme (DAP), the Wireless Cloud as well as the various programmes of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), we make bold to say that Ogun State has always been at the top of the list of beneficiaries.
Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro and Gateway Polytechnic, Ota are some of the beneficiaries of the ADAPTI projects under which these institutions received laptops and accessories, wireless cloud deployment as well as capacity building for the relevant staff and students on the ICT operations.
Under the Commission’s Digital Awareness Programme (DAP) for Secondary Schools, no fewer than 50 Secondary Schools in Ogun State have also benefited.In no particular order, the Schools include: Owode High School, Obafemi Owode; Methodist High School, Ewekoro; Adeola Odutola Comprehensive High School, Ijebu Ode; Abeokuta Grammar School, Abeokuta; Molusi College, Ijebu Igbo; Sagamu High School, Iperu-Remo; Muslim College, Ijebu Ode; Mayflower School, Ikenne and African Grammar School, Ita Eko, among others.
Under the Universal Service Provision Fund’s (USPF) School knowledge Centre (SKCs) and Tertiary Information Knowledge Centre (TIKCs) Schemes, 45 Secondary Schools, 6(six) Tertiary Institutions have benefited.The Tertiary Institutions include, MKO Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta; University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun; Covenant University, Ota; Redeemers University, Ibafo and Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye.
Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) have also been constructed in Orile-Ilugun-Kila axis to cater for 49,000 inhabitants, Igbo-Ora -14,627 inhabitants, Itori-Wasimi – 13,112 inhabitants and Orita J4 Egunya to cater for 22,500 population.