- As Danbatta lists efforts at improving service delivery
By Omobayo Azeez
The Senate Committee on Communications says has promised to join combats against challenges undermining the Nigerian telecoms industry via legislative intervention.
This came as the committee satisfaction at the various regulatory interventions which the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has taken to ensure improved service delivery and bridging access gaps in the country.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu, chairman of the committee, who led other members to NCC’s Head Office in Abuja on a familiarisation and fact-finding visit recently said, given the mammoth of challenges facing the industry and the achievements of the commission so far, its regulatory interventions and performance deserves to be appreciated and commended.
The committee members were received by the executive management team of the commission, led by Umar Danbatta, NCC’s executive vice chairman (EVC).
Tinubu said, “We are here on a familiarisation and fact-finding tour to the commission but I must say that we are impressed by the presentation made by the executive vice chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, on the activities of the commission so far in regulating the industry.
“We particularly see the Platinum Category Certificate of Award for exceptional organisational performance which NCC received from the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) in 2017 as a testament to your recognition as a performing agency of the Federal Government. However, we want you to do more for Nigerians.”
Earlier, while addressing the committee, Danbatta reeled out industry statistics which captured the growth recorded in the industry.
Danbatta provided a detailed briefing of the commission’s core mandates, its various initiatives that have helped to improve wider access to telecommunications as well as the challenges in the regulatory environment, which formed the basis for the comments made by the committee members.
According to him, Nigeria attained and surpassed 30 per cent broadband penetration target in December, 2018 and the penetration has further increase to 38.49 per cent as of December, 2019.
Also, Danbatta said the number of active phone lines has increased to over 185 million; active Internet subscriptions on global system for mobile communications (GSM), fixed wired and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) networks have equally increased to over 126 million.
The EVC added that teledensity is 96.76 per cent, and quarterly contribution of telecoms to gross domestic product (GDP) has reached 10.60 per cent.
The NCC, through the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) has reduced the number of access-gaps clusters in the country further from 114. Hitherto, some 38 million Nigerians were affected by access gap clusters.
Danbatta further explained to the committee what the commission has done, so far, with respect to spectrum administration in the sector. He stated that despite the crucial role of spectrum, and being a scarce resource, the commission has deployed spectrum quite effectively for the development of the telecom industry.
Some of the clear goal-oriented programmes in that regard include development of spectrum trading, ongoing effort to leverage Television White Space (TVWS) to address rural connectivity, the Proof of Concept (PoC) non-commercial trial of Fifth Generation (5G) networks, and development guidelines on commercial satellites deployment, among others.