The need to be innovative as a nation has become imperative, this has made countries like Nigeria that are mono economy (crude oil based) nations to think of diversifying the economy to other areas such as agriculture and more importantly information and communication technology which Nigerian Communication Commission has been piloting and building a robust telecommunication ecosystem. Economic pun

Innovation has become so imperative that as the world is tilting towards the 4th Industrial Revolution which would be powered by innovation, capacity building, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, the need to be futuristic and get prepared for the future has mandated government agencies to tinker and prepare for the future. Having noted this, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC highlighted the need and what the commission has been doing to ensure that the country gets prepared for this, #

Speaking on the importance of telecommunication as an enabler and driver for the future, Danbatta said” The Commission, in continuing with its long-standing tradition of being a proactive regulatory approach, introduced policies and initiatives aimed at promoting the provision of efficient, available, affordable and easily accessible communications services throughout Nigeria. A proactive step taken by the Commission was the partnership with necessary stakeholders across the three tiers of government to collectively address challenges such as vandalism, multiple taxation & regulation, high cost of Right of Way (RoW), among others, which have been impeding speedy infrastructure deployment across the country.”

“For innovation to thrive as the anchor for accelerating economic growth post COVID-19, a robust broadband infrastructure upon which ICT innovations will ride, is a necessity and an urgent one at that. During my first term in office, we placed emphasis on broadband to drive innovation, and hopes to take broadband penetration to 70% by 2025 in line with the new target in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NBBP), 2020-2025. Through effective regulatory efforts, the NCC has been able to deepen connectivity in the country. Under my stewardship at the Commission, we realized that infrastructure gaps existed around the country impairing networks performance, and leading to poor quality of service. With the steady increase in telecom subscribers, the Commission decided that a robust telecom/ICT infrastructure was needed to meet up with growing demands for improved Quality of Service. It became imperative for us at the Commission to introduce drastic measures at ensuring Nigerians receive value for money. “

“We intensified our focus on the established key performance indicators (KPIs) for quality of service by instituting a regime of rigorous and continuous monitoring of the networks to ensure that they operate in tandem with set parameters. In the long term, the Commission’s initiative to license Infrastructure Companies (INFRACOs) to bridge existing gaps will further improve not only broadband penetration but the quality of broadband experience. Today we have six (6) licensed INFRACOs, one in each geo-political zone of the country, with Lagos State receiving special status because of its commercial centrality to the country. The seventh license for the North-Central region is being processed”, Danbatta opined.

He also added that “On the InfraCos, the Commission is in the process of finalizing the six Infracos Counterpart Funding Agreement to galvanize the full rollout of broadband infrastructure on an Open Access Model (OAM) aimed at enhancing digital transformation and this will ensure there is Point of Access in each of the 774 local governments in the country. The result of this initiative is that apart from meeting and surpassing the 30 percent broadband penetration in December, 2018, in line with the NBP 2013-2018 target, NCC increased broadband penetration from less than 6 percent in 2015 to 43.30 percent by August 2020. This translates to 82, 653,247 broadband subscriptions in the country as of August, 2020. These measures have been very instrumental to the emergence and survival of SMEs that have had to ride on the backbone of telecoms infrastructure during this pandemic.”

The NCC EVC added that there have been collaborative efforts between the commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria, this has increased the preponderance of digital banking and also made banking seamless and easier.

He said” Collaborative partnership between the NCC and the CBN has been very effective, leading to the development of various brands of electronic transaction models, which have totally reformed banking in Nigeria making it possible for instant cash transfers to folks in rural areas cutting out waiting times at banking halls and simplifying online transactions. Between 2015 and 2020, much has been done to put Nigeria on the global map of nations that are electronically driven while delivering financial intermediation. Together with our stakeholders from the banking sector, the NCC is actively involved in the application of various electronic portals that continue to drive transactions off banking floor and onto handheld devices or personal computers. The NCC, through its interventions, has continued to lift the Nigerian economy and create momentum and hope for financial inclusion based on the seamless implementation of the Commission’s Strategic Vision Plan.”

On the eHealth, the commission has made tremendous strides especially in the areas of Fight against Covid 19. “It is pertinent, at this juncture, to note that NCC’s Emergency Communication Centers (ECC) have been crucial in the Federal Government’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 1,209 COVID-19-related calls made between March and June 2020 from the nineteen (19) ECCs across the country. The establishment of the ECCs by the Commission across the nation was borne out of the need to safeguard all Nigerians irrespective of their geographical locations.The Nigerian Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, has been putting measures in place to ensure the Coronavirus disease is controlled and quickly contained. Nigeria’s multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) activated its national Emergency Operations Centre and swiftly swung into action with State governments to contain the spread of the outbreak around the country” Danbatta concluded.

ANTHONY EMEKA NWOSU

Under my stewardship at the Commission, we realized that infrastructure gaps existed around the country impairing networks performance, and leading to poor quality of service. With the steady increase in telecom subscribers, the Commission decided that a robust telecom/ICT infrastructure was needed to meet up with growing demands for improved Quality of Service. It became imperative for us at the Commission to introduce drastic measures at ensuring Nigerians receive value for money.

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