Issue #25   •   Quarter 3/4 Edition   •   December 2018

 

The Nigerian Communications Commission has commenced the processes that will lead to a review of the licensing framework for telecommunication spectrum administration in Nigeria.

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, stated this when he presented the 23rd Inaugural Lecture at Bayero University, Kano (BUK). Delivering the lecture was akin to a return to a familiar turf for the Professor of electrical cum Electronic engineering. There was a ring of emotion as the lecturers took turns to welcome a man they had worked with and cherished his warmth for nearly three decades.

Prof. Danbatta was a lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering in the Faculty of Technology at Bayero University Kano for 28 years. During this period he taught courses in telecommunications engineering and electronics, and held academic positions including Dean of the Faculty as well as Head of Department at different times.

Danbatta said the vision of the Commission and the importance of spectrum as a critical but limited national resource demands that it has to be managed judiciously to ensure that the needs of all stakeholders are accommodated.

The NCC Chief Executive also told members of the academic community that telecoms contributed about N1.452 trillion to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in the first quarter of 2017 and has all through the year maintained a steady growth in the midst of dire economic challenges which plagued the nation.

He noted that there were still some challenges affecting the telecommunications sector. Some of these challenges include lack of ease of securing appropriate permissions such as Right of Way (RoW) for the laying of fibre optics infrastructure. There is also the energy challenge in terms inadequate power supply, vandalism of infrastructure and multiple taxation.

He also spoke on the methodology adopted in the Commission's Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) which is based on Honshin Kanri/Policy Deployment method, which ensures strategic goals of the NCC to drive progress and action at every level of Commission's activities.

On the strategy to connect the unconnected especially those in the rural areas, he said: “We are doing it in a small way courtesy of the Universal Service Provision Fund. We are like plugging the gaps at about the rate of 10% per year which means it will take us about 20 years to plug all the gaps.

“This way of doing it is not very effective and we need to fast track this measures that we have put in place. The only way to do it is to resort to technological solutions dedicated to rural areas that will plug the gaps minimum two to three years.

“We have such technology in mind as I talk to you. We have deployed one solution and it’s very effective; it has plugged a number of gaps. We hope that we will be able to replicate this strategy like I said to ensure we plug the gaps in the next two to three years.”

Danbatta also expressed the hope that citizens in the rural areas will be empowered in the digital financial inclusion programme of the federal government.

“We have licenses we will like to auction; the infraco which you are very much aware is out. We divided the country into seven zones. We hope we will be able to license the remaining zones; so far four are remaining to be licensed.

“We hope we can license more fibre optics licenses. These licenses will provide fibre networks within cities as the name of the license denotes and we hope; that we will be able to also license more distance entities”
He added that through the three strategies which are within the mandate of the NCC, it could be able to double the amount of fibre in the country, stressing it is still work in progress.

On the need to diversify the economy and reduce over dependence on oil and gas, the NCC boss said the spectrum is like crude oil and that it is what drives telecommunication, adding that the Nigerian government is making a lot of money from the sale of spectrum licenses.

He added: “The main focus is diversifying the economy and reducing our over-dependence on oil and gas. Spectrum is like crude oil, it is what drives telecommunications.

“It is a natural resource that the FG is making a lot of money from. If you build an efficient broadband network; every other thing will follow.”

The Vice Chancellor of BUK, Prof. Muhammad Yahuza Bello, thanked the EVC for his lecture, saying, it was well timed and advised other professors who are yet to give their inaugural lecture on their field of study to get in touch with the inaugural lecture committee as the institution is willing and able to accommodate them within the shortest time, if it means having two inaugural lectures in a week.

“Inaugural lecture by Professors is a global tradition and normally the person who is giving the lecture gives the lecture in his or her area of specialisation”, the VC explained.