Data availability through robust broadband is a key element to building a digital economy, says Director Public Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo

He stated this in a keynote address he delivered at a critical segment of the 2017 Digital PayEXPO in Lagos tagged DATA FIESTA.

The segment which came up for the first time at the 17-year-old event, was to demonstrate the importance of data and broadband infrastructure in the implementation of smart payment systems in the country.

One area that data availability and ease-of-access has played major role is e-commerce. He noted the significance of the value of data with regard to e-commerce explains the massive sales by Nigerian-based online malls such as Yudala, Jumia and Konga among others.

The huge online banking transactions that have reduced physical traffic to the banking halls, and the amazing innovations and creativity bolstered by access to data and the Internet, he said, are proofs of what is possible with good broadband and this he added also speaks to greater opportunities in the future which are already seen in many start-up businesses. In recent years, there has been a blooming of ICT-based start-ups in Nigeria as well as a surge in e-commerce patronage.

"This explains why NCC is opening up new and additional spectrum bands as data needs are growing in order to increase availability of data".

The auction of frequencies in the 2.3GHz, 2.6GHz, the re-planning of the 800MHz for LTE services, the re-farming of older frequencies held by operators in the sector - all of which are earmarked for data - as concrete steps taken by the NCC to ensure availability of data, he stressed; adding that there are also measurable derivable benefits for the data segment in the NCC's technology neutrality stance.

"All these are proof of NCC's mindfulness of the centrality of data for economic growth and development.

"The licensing of two infrastructure companies (Infracos) two years ago was designed to push the deployment of backbone fibre across the country. The NCC has also instituted processes for the licensing of additional five Infracos for the same purpose to strengthen the wireless technology resources available in the telecom sector", he emphasised.

On the NCC's vision for the data segment of the telecom sector, Ojobo said that the Commission is also engaging every stakeholder to secure the required collaboration in all its activities while recalling the visits of management of the Commission to some state Governors to ensure that operators are given necessary permits to deploy infrastructure in the states. These efforts, he said, have yielded good results most recently in Ogun and Kano states.

"NCC will continue to liaise with the National Assembly and other relevant institutions of government to ensure that the Bill on the Protection of Critical National Infrastructure is passed speedily to check the recurring vandalism and theft of telecom infrastructure and equipment because of the attendant disruptions the damage and theft of equipment pose to quality of service", Ojobo said.

NCC was honoured with the 2017 Digital PayExpo Platinum Partnership Award at the Award Dinner.