July 25, 2023

NCC begins review of 6 six regulatory instruments

USSD: Banks owe telcos N17bn, says Danbatta


…Says it would enable sector meet demands of evolving digital age

By Emmanuel Elebeke

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC on Tuesday commenced a periodic review of six regulatory instruments in the telecommunications sector.

The three-day public inquiry affords stakeholders an opportunity to critically examine and provide valuable insights on the draft instruments that will help shape the final instruments that will govern the communications sector and determine their impact on society in the years ahead.  

The participants comprised experts, stakeholders, and concerned citizens, all of who play a very important role in charting the course for the industry.

The six instruments for consideration include: Quality of Service Regulations; the draft Guidelines on Corporate Governance for the communications sector; the Commercial Satellite Guidelines; the Numbering Regulations; The Competition Practices Regulations and the draft Data Protection Regulations.

Speaking at the occasion, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Communications Commission, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the regulatory instruments being considered during the course of the Public inquiry was not only constitutional but aimed at charting a robust course for the growth and advancement of the industry.

He said the Communications sector is at the forefront of innovation and advancements in technology geared towards driving economic growth and societal development.

‘‘It affords seamless communication, fosters connectivity and thereby creates an enabling environment to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.

‘‘However, with the laudable advancements in the sector comes great responsibility on the part of government to ensure that there exists an enabling environment for the industry to thrive, through the introduction/amendment of key regulatory instruments.’’

The first instrument, the Quality of Service Regulations, according to Danbatta has been amended to ensure that the quality and standards of service are in line with current realities.

He added that the Commission has also introduced Business Rules for Quality of Services, which comprises of all the various Quality of Service parameters, to ensure that they can be easily adapted to meet the ever evolving and changing trends in technology and different deployment approaches of the sector.

The second instrument, the draft Guidelines on Corporate Governance for the communications sector, he said has also been introduced to promote transparency, accountability and ethical conduct in Communications companies. For him, the instrument would usher in strong corporate governance which is the cornerstone of a healthy and sustainable communications sector.

‘‘The third instrument, which is the Commercial Satellite Guidelines, which is now intended to be Regulations, has been amended to address the growing demand for satellite services, satellite licensing and orbital slots, ensuring fair access for all stakeholders towards ensuring that the broadband penetration targets of the government are attained.

‘‘The fourth Instrument, the Numbering Regulations, has comprehensively analyzed the current numbering regime to identify possible gaps and ensure it is adaptable to the ever-evolving needs of the sector. The Competition Practices Regulations has been amended to ensure that the current Regulations strike the right balance between encouraging healthy competition and safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders.

‘‘The draft Data Protection Regulations has been developed to ensure that communications sector specific data is handled responsibly and with utmost care. Data Protection regulation has become exigent as our daily activities have become more intertwined with digital technologies and it is the responsibility of the Commission to ensure that the personal information and traffic data entrusted to communication service providers are handled responsibly and with utmost care.’’

He urged participants to engage in meaningful and constructive discussions and elicit issues that will explore the potential strengths and weaknesses of the draft regulatory instruments, identify areas for improvement and propose innovative solutions to address the challenges ahead, saying that, ‘‘Together we can create an environment that encourages innovation, empowers individuals and communities with the transformative potential of modern communications.’’

Earlier in her opening remarks, the Director of Legal and regulatory Services of the Commission, Ms Helen Obi said the aim of the public inquiry is to ensure that the industry continues to evolve and thrive, in accordance with the commission’s commitment to uphold the highest standards of service.

Obi also said that the proposed amendments aim to strengthen the anti-competitive behavior checks, enhance consumer welfare and encourage innovation among operators.

‘‘The Public Inquiry is to address several significant amendments and introductions to our regulatory instruments which we are proposing to the Nigerian Communications Industry as prescribed by Sections 70-72 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003.

‘‘The proposed amendment to the QoS Regulations intends to introduce stricter performance standards, more robust monitoring mechanisms and more transparent reporting systems that will improve the overall customer experience.

‘‘More importantly, these changes will also drive operators to enhance their networks and services through efficient deployment and network optimization processes. Clearly, these expectations will ultimately foster a culture of continual improvement which is essential for the competitiveness and vitality of our industry. Next, we look to the amendment of the Commercial Satellite Guidelines. As we embrace the potential of space technologies, it is critical that we do so responsibly.’’

‘‘The amendments will provide clearer procedures for licensing and operation of satellite communications services, promote the use of satellite technology for deepening broadband penetration for national development and ensure compliance with international obligations. In addition, we are introducing Corporate Governance Guidelines for the Communications Industry.

‘‘These Guidelines will set a clear framework for operators, ensuring that their operations are transparent, accountable, and adhere to international standards of corporate governance. This will not only enhance the reputation of our industry but also bolster investor confidence. The Commission is also introducing Data Protection Regulations for the Communications Industry.

‘‘In the digital age, data protection is not an option; it is a necessity. The Regulation will establish a robust framework for data privacy, ensuring that operators respect the rights of individuals while also leveraging on data for innovation and growth.’’