By Nnamdi Ojiego
Apparently getting seriously tired of a convergence that exists only in the lips of government, of all the agencies in the communications sector of the Nigerian economy, Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Engr Yomi Bolarinwa wants a quick streamlining of the roles of the Nigerian Communications Commission , NCC and that of NBC, with a view to conforming with the new convergence framework
Bolarinwa believes that the only way convergence could make meaning and serve the purpose in which the Obasanjo government proposed convergence in the industry was when the Acts establishing the two agencies are reviewed and tailored towards allowing the two to shake hands and achieveÂ one purpose.
For Bolarinwa, the industry has witnessed tremendous progress which has called for an immediate and urgent review of the policies to accommodate major developments which emerged as the sector evolves.
Bolarinwa, was speaking on the â€œtransition to digital broadcasting and management of the digital dividendâ€, at an ICT stakeholders meeting with the minister of state for communication, Alhaji Aliyu Ikra BilbisÂ recently in Lagos.
According to him, the current telecommunications policy which was published in May 2000 by the then Minister of Communications, Alhaji Mohammed Arzika, with thrust on telecommunications, has been outdated. â€œMany of the data in the current policy are outdated and needed to be updated in the light of the tremendous progress made in the telecom sector in Nigeria
â€œThe changes in the industry in the last ten years have necessitated an immediate and urgent review of the policy to take account of not only the progress in the telecom industry in Nigeria but the global trend of considering telecom as part of an integrated communications based on the concept of convergence that encompasses telecom, broadcasting and IT.â€
Bolarinwaâ€™s charge however, came before the recent commissioning of a 24 member committee to review the telecoms policy by the federal government.
The NBC boss said many of the short term (3 years) and the medium term (5 years) objectives, and projects like SAT 3, Nigcomsat among others, have been achieved and new objectives needed to be fixed in line with technological developments and progress already made in the sector.
â€œThe industry structure also needs to conform with a new convergence framework, therefore, the need to address the streamlining of the functions of NCC and NBC, taking into account a new categorisation of ICT services; review of the Communications Act and the NBC Act.â€
He said though, tremendous progress has been achieved in the provision of infrastructure, more were still required in areas like national cross country links â€“ more optical fibre; satellite communications â€“ Nigcomsat (management, optimal utilisation); massive broadband roll out; and infrastructure optimisation provisions on specific ways to improving local content on the internet.