The Chairman, Board of Commissioners of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Adeolu Akande, has urged telecoms licensees across different segments of the Nigerian telecommunications sector on the need to adhere strictly to their licensing obligations in order to ensure robust provision of services to the consumers.
Akande made the call in his remark at the third edition of NCC’s 2021 “Talk to The Regulator” (TTTR) Forum, which took place at Visa Karena Hotels, Port Harcourt, over the weekend.
At the forum held with a focus on “Improving Stakeholder Satisfaction”, Akande stated that the essence of conducting the stakeholder engagement forum across the country’s geo-political zones was to demonstrate to the Commission’s licensees that responsibility does not end in issuing of licenses alone but rather in working with the licensing authority to address issues affecting their operations.
Beyond the issuance of licences to operators, Akande declared that the Commission is legitimately concerned with providing the necessary regulatory frameworks and initiatives capable of ushering in an environment that encourages seamless implementation of the licence conditions.
“In return, we expect the licensees to deliver on their licensing conditions and I want to use this opportunity to challenge our licensees to always comply with their licensing obligations and conditions in order to provide the much-needed services to the generality of Nigerians,” he said.
Speaking earlier on the centrality of the stakeholder engagement to the regulatory activities of the Commission, NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta said the Commission considers feedback from stakeholder’s engagement initiatives imperative for building a robust licensing regime in the Nigerian telecom sector.
The EVC, who was represented at the forum by NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, reiterated the Commission’s commitment to stakeholder engagement as a means of deepening collaboration with NCC’s licensees, identifying areas of concern, and jointly developing and implementing practical solutions.
The NCC boss noted that the focus of deliberations for the series of stakeholder engagement had been on licensing processes, policies, and procedures, all geared towards improving Stakeholder Satisfaction, a central factor to all NCC’s regulatory activities. He emphasised the need to curate insights from each geo-political zone to encourage mutually-beneficial relationships and enhance understanding between the Commission and its key stakeholders.
According to Danbatta, measurable success has been recorded essentially because of Commission’s focus on prioritising stakeholders. “Achievements such as contributions to Gross Domestic product (GDP) grew to 14.42 per cent in Q2’2021; active internet subscriptions have reached over 140 million; teledensity which now stands at 99.98 per cent; and 40.01% per cent broadband penetration, all as at the end of September, 2021,” he said.
Speaking further, Danbatta said to achieve national policy targets and maintain progressive growth in the telecoms industry, “efforts must be jointly made to harness the full cooperation of licensees to highlight areas hampering the progress of the Commission’s stakeholders. “We have started making necessary adjustments to reflect the views of our licensees in Kano and Lagos. Port Harcourt will not be an exception,” Danbatta assured.
He reiterated that the meeting is organised in keeping with the Commission’s strategic objectives, which seek to guarantee continuous interface with the critical stakeholder in the industry, for collaboration in seeking solutions to challenges of licensing in Nigeria.
Further underscoring the significance of stakeholder engagement and sensitisation in the Commission, Danbatta said the forum affords stakeholders a platform to raise questions about the challenges of licensing and their operations. He said such forum also avails the Commission ample opportunity to adequately respond to the concerns that may be raised.
At the Focus Group Discussions (FGD), participants reviewed and discussed licensing trends, regulatory process, implementation of Annual Operating Levy (AOL) regulations, assigning of short codes, type-approval obligations, and Commission’s expectations.
Commission’s propositions for the survival of smaller licensees were also discussed in a session termed “Listen to the licensee,” as they were not only given ample time to air their grievances but also made to proffer solutions for Management’s consideration. Also, mutually-beneficial positions on multiple taxations, surrendered licences, Right-of-way (RoW) for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) boosters, amongst others, were part of the issues discussed.
The Port Harcourt edition of the TTTR was sequel to previous editions of the stakeholder engagement forum which took place in Kano on October 16, 2021 and Lagos on November 25, 2021. The event had in attendance members of NCC Board: Prof. Millionaire Abowei; Clement Baiye; Chief Uche Onwude; as well as Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Bako Wakil; and his counterpart in Licensing and Authorisation, Muhammed Babajika, whose department facilitated the organisation of the forum.