The Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, announced that there was a significant increase in telecom investment in Nigeria, rising from $38 billion to $77 billion by the second quarter of 2023. This was revealed in a media chat with media industry stakeholders in Kano.
Prof. Umar also pointed out that the telecom sector contributed 16 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product during this period. These figures, as per Danbatta, were derived from calculations made by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics.
“From about eight per cent contribution to GDP in 2015, when I came on board as the EVC of NCC, quarterly GDP has increased significantly to reach its current threshold of 16 per cent and this has continued to positively impact all aspects of the economy,” he said.
The head of the NCC credited the achievement to the consistent and effective regulatory oversight provided by the commission. He further noted that the industry had experienced significant expansion and advancements over the last 20 years, characterized by remarkable growth, elevated regulatory benchmarks, and noteworthy digital innovations that gained international acknowledgement.
He mentioned that there were 218.9 million telephone users, 159.5 million internet subscribers, and 88.7 million broadband users in Nigeria during the mentioned timeframe. Danbatta also outlined various challenges such as obstacles related to the right of way, fibre damage, the substantial capital needed for deployment, multiple taxations, and regulatory issues that hindered the expansion of broadband in the country.
Nevertheless, he provided assurance that the NCC would work on addressing the challenges posed by regulatory intricacies, the digital divide, and literacy issues.
Expansion of emergency communication centres in Nigeria
Professor Danbatta also announced plans to set up an emergency communication centre in all 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. These centres, once established, will facilitate communication between distressed individuals and emergency response agencies nationwide.
Additionally, he revealed an increase in research grants provided to universities, raising the amount from N20 million to N30 million. He mentioned that three universities have already benefited from this expanded grant with their names undisclosed.
“The NCC as a regulator is mindful of the fact that telecom is an enabler and catalyst for the economic advancement of the country It has consistently made available, affordable, and accessible telecoms service to check certain telecoms barriers,” he stated.
Prof. Umar acknowledged the difficulties the commission was grappling with, such as deliberate damage to its infrastructure and the multitude of taxes imposed on telecom firms. In his words, the challenges confronting the commission include a total of 41 different tax categories imposed on telecommunications companies.
He emphasized the commission’s commitment to maintaining open communication with stakeholders in the media industry to ensure that the public remains well-informed about its operations.
Open communication between NCC and stakeholders in the media industry
The dedication to open communication is rooted in principles of transparency and accountability. By keeping the channels of communication open, the NCC can provide clear insights into its actions and decisions, fostering trust among the public and media organizations. This transparency is essential in an industry as vital as telecommunications.
In addition, ensuring that the public remains well-informed is a primary goal. The NCC recognizes that disseminating information about regulatory changes, policies, and industry developments empowers individuals to make informed choices regarding their communication services. In an era where connectivity is increasingly integral to daily life, informed decision-making is paramount.
Moreover, communication acts as a valuable feedback mechanism. Engaging with media stakeholders and the public allows the NCC to receive input, suggestions, and concerns from various quarters. This feedback loop is invaluable, as it enables the commission to make more informed and responsive decisions that align with the needs and expectations of its diverse stakeholders.
In the ever-evolving landscape of telecommunications, challenges are bound to arise. Whether it is the destruction of critical infrastructure or the imposition of excessive taxes, these issues can have far-reaching consequences. By maintaining open communication, the NCC can promptly address these challenges by garnering support and understanding from stakeholders and the public alike.
Speaking on this, open communication is a catalyst for innovation. Sharing information about the NCC’s activities and regulatory goals can inspire creativity and forward-thinking within the telecommunications industry. Telecom companies and other stakeholders can better plan their investments when they have a clear understanding of the regulatory landscape and the direction in which the industry is heading.
It is a strategy that benefits the industry, its participants, and the nation as a whole.
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