By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Nigerian Communication’s Commission, NCC says the country’s current broadband penetration as at June 2022 stands at 44.30% with more than eighty-four million internet subscriptions in the Country.
This is even as he also disclosed that the Industry’s contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) have risen from 9.81% in Q4 2018 to 12.61% in Q4 2021.
The executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta dropped the hint at the ongoing Public inquiry on five regulatory instruments held from August 9-11, 2022 at the Commission’s headquarters, Abuja.
He said the nation’s broadband penetration had earlier increased from 21.21 per cent in April 2017 to 40.66 per cent in April 2021. And from the Commission’s data, 77,605,500 million Nigerians were connected to the Internet in April 2021, up from 40,481,570 million in April 2017.
This drive according to him, has culminated in the Broadband penetration in Nigeria increasing by 91.70 per cent in the last four years, adding that these strides, were outcomes of the Commission’s regulatory management of the Industry as well as its focused implementation of policies and strategies of the Federal Government of Nigeria, leading to.
‘‘The Nigerian Communications Commission has been working assiduously to implement the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020 – 2025, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020 – 2030, its Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024 and its Strategic Vision Implementation Plan (SVIP) 2021 – 2025 and achieve its mandate.
‘‘This drive has culminated in the Broadband penetration in Nigeria increasing by 91.70 per cent in the last four years’’.
Prof. Danbatta explained that the ongoing Public Inquiry on five key regulatory instruments is in tandem with the Commission’s strategy of consulting its stakeholders in all its regulatory interventions which cuts across all sectors/segments of the telecommunications industry.
The first instrument, the Type Approval Regulations, provide a framework for the approval of communications equipment for connection to communications networks in Nigeria, pursuant to sections 130 to 134 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003.
The Commission introduced Business Rules for Type Approval to address issues that cannot be catered for in the Regulations and ensure that the Type Approval process is seamless.
The second instrument, Guidelines on Short Code Operation in Nigeria, is intended to prescribe a standard of practice for providers of short code services and to provide a revised framework for the provision of these services and for the protection against misuse.
The third instrument, being the Guidelines on Technical Specifications for the Deployment of Communications Infrastructure, provides standards to be adhered to by Communications services providers/operators, designers, fabricators and installers of Communications towers and laying of fibre optic cables towards ensuring environmental safety and sound engineering practices.
The fourth instrument is the Guidelines on Advertisements and Promotions, which provides minimum requirements and standards for promotional advertisements by licensed telecommunications operators in Nigeria.
The fifth instrument, which is the Consumer Code of Practice Regulations, amongst other things, sets rules for consumer protection and prescribes the procedures to be followed by a Licensee in preparing approved consumer codes of practice, in accordance with section 106 of the Act.
According to him, the five key regulatory instruments under review were developed to address the challenges of the dynamic and ever evolving Communications Industry.
The EVC further explained that the five regulatory instruments are existing instruments which are being amended to reflect current realities.
‘‘One of such realities is that with the deployment of 5G, it will become necessary for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to invest heavily in communications infrastructure.
‘‘Also, with the technological advancements anticipated in the coming years, it is expected that there will be a proliferation of devices in the industry. It is therefore essential for the Commission to ensure that the regulatory framework can accommodate such eventualities’’, he said.
He enjoined participants to contribute freely to the discussions and highlight issues that will enhance the quality of the various regulatory instruments and by extension contribute to the development of the communications industry.
‘‘It is our expectation that this review will improve the standards and procedures for Type Approvals, Operation of Short Codes and Advertisement and Promotions, ensure a more robust framework for the deployment of Communications Infrastructure and guarantee that the procedures to be followed by a Licensee in preparing approved consumer codes of practice are in tandem with current realities.
‘‘It is important to underscore the fact this Public Inquiry, holding from August 9 – 11, 2022, is a key element in the Commission’s consultative engagements as part of its rule making process and a key ingredient of regulatory excellence. Therefore, I enjoin you all to be part of this key and important process in the Nigerian communications sector’’.
Earlier in her the Head, Telecoms Laws & Regulations, Legal & Regulatory Services Department, Nigerian Communications Commission, represented by Ms. Helen Obi said the Commission decided to review five regulatory instruments in order to build on the successes recorded last year in this regard.
‘‘The Public Inquiry is an avenue that allows the Commission to incorporate the comments and suggestions of industry stakeholders, in the development of its regulatory instruments.
‘‘This process ensures that the regulatory instruments issued by the Commission are in line with the current realities in the industry’’.
The Commission last year held similar Public Inquiries on the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations, the SIM Replacement Guidelines, Frequency Spectrum (Fees & Pricing, Etc.) Regulations, Annual Operating Levy Regulations, Guidelines on National Roaming, Guidelines on Colocation and Infrastructure Sharing and the Spectrum Trading Guidelines.
And of all the instruments listed above, the Commission has published Guidelines on National Roaming 2021, Guidelines on Colocation and Infrastructure Sharing 2021, SIM Replacement Guidelines 2022 and the Spectrum Trading Guidelines 2022; whilst the Annual Operating Levy Regulations and the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations have been forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for gazetting, the Frequency Spectrum (Fees & Pricing, Etc.) Regulations is at the final stages of the review process.
Obi said the draft of all the regulatory instruments Regulations have since been published on its’s website and comments from external Stakeholders have been received and reviewed.
The above notwithstanding, the Commission said it is hoping to receive additional comments from external stakeholders, which would ensure that the final regulatory instruments are such that will guarantee the progressive development of the industry.