The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has partnered with Guinea-Bissau on measures to promote a stable telecoms sector and accelerate digital inclusion in the country.
Professor Umar Danbatta Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, shared the Nigerian experience when he met with a delegation from the Autoridade Reguladora Nacional (ARN), Guinea- Telecom Bissau’s National Regulatory Authority, who were on a week-long benchmarking visit to the Commission in Abuja.
The delegation was at the Commission to learn about the NCC’s regulatory framework as part of an exchange to strengthen bilateral relations in the area of telecommunications regulations.
According to Danbatta, who is also the Chairman of the West African Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly (WATRA), the NCC has been recognized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as Africa’s foremost regulatory organization and has received regulators from across Africa and beyond whose mission it is to study the Commission over the years.
He recalled Guinea Bissau’s strong support for Nigeria during the recently concluded election for the position of Executive Secretary of WATRA and Chairmanship of the regional body, noting that the benchmarking visit highlights the cordial relationship, mutual cooperation, and collaboration between both countries.
The 16 members of the regional organization share a common vision in ensuring that the citizens are not digitally excluded and are cooperating to ensure that access to information and communication technology services are not only ubiquitous but that they are available and affordable through effective national and regional policies, Danbatta said.
The EVC stated that the NCC has improved access to broadband for over 80 million Nigerians through the implementation of various policy initiatives, particularly the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) and that the country aims to provide Points of Access (PoA) in all 774 local government areas (LGAs) within the planned period.
Danbatta stated that challenges remain in the process, but that the NCC is committed to addressing issues such as Right of Way (RoW), multiple taxation, and vandalism of telecoms infrastructure, among others, that licensees face as they roll out services.
We identified 217 clusters of access gaps and today, we have ensured more Nigerians are digitally-included by reducing the number of access gaps to 114 currently, while more measures are being taken to further reduce the access gaps, thereby deepening digital inclusion.
Nigeria’s telecoms sector had reached an all-time-high, basic internet subscription of 154 million; over 87 million broadband subscriptions, representing 45.93 per cent broadband penetration; over 207 million voice subscriptions with teledensity standing at 108.94 per cent as at October 2020.
Danbatta, as WATRA Chairman, has assured that ongoing plans are in place for WATRA Executive Secretary Aliu Aboki to visit the Assembly’s 16 member countries in order to interact and engage with the member countries in order to build a common front to mobilize the development of the West Africa sub-telecommunication region’s ecosystem.
So, we hope this level of collaboration at the level of WATRA, will be strengthened, so that together, we can act in a manner that other parts of Africa can be able to copy from us. It is an excellent regulatory model that we are working together and I solicit your support and that of other member countries in making the visit of the 16-member countries by the Executive Secretary a huge success,”
While expressing a desire to reciprocate the visit, the EVC expressed its gratitude to the Guinea Bissau delegation for their visit and expressed hope that their expectations for the benchmarking program were met as they took away some key ideas and incorporated them into their country’s communication industry regulation.