The EVC with some management staff of the
Commission and representatives of GSMA

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has added a hefty N70 billion to the Federation Account in the last six months, the Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said.

Danbatta said this in an interaction that preceded his lecture entitled: ‘Mainstreaming ICT for Poverty Reduction in Nigeria’ at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Plateau State.

According to the EVC, the first tranche of the payment was made in December for the last quarter of 2015. The second tranche of about N35bn was made in March for the first quarter of 2016. He explained that while the NCC is authorised to use a portion of the Annual Operating Levies paid by operators for running its operations, a certain proportion must be paid into the Federation Account on quarterly basis.

He also said that 40 per cent of the Annual Operating Levies paid by the telecommunications operators must be reserved for the Universal Service Provision Fund, which concentrates on bridging the gap in underserved and unserved communities in the rural and urban parts of the country.

Danbatta said service provision, especially broadband Internet among unserved communities, played a great role in poverty reduction as research had shown that access to Internet provides opportunities for people to create wealth. He was optimistic that with the new enthusiasm in the sector, Nigerians would in the coming years begin to see tangible evidence of ICT making Nigerian youths creators of wealth and jobs.

But he cautioned that investment in ICT alone was not enough for sustainable development to occur or for poverty to be eradicated, adding that successful ICT poverty reduction interventions could only be achieved with an enabling environment, participation of the private sector and non-governmental organisations, free flow of information, access to ICT by women and youths, and capacity building.

He said: “Consequently, ICTs may be regarded as an enabler of other developmental efforts and infrastructure required for sustainable development. Only a banquet of strategies duly implemented can attempt to resolve the global menace of poverty.

“The challenge for the poor is inability to access information due to inadequate infrastructure, ignorance or illiteracy. The availability of information sources for the poor should be of great concern if poverty is to be reduced.

“For most developing countries, particularly those with large populations, inadequate infrastructure has made it difficult for them to participate as equal partners in the worldwide enterprise of knowledge production and dissemination.”