By Ismail Auwal

The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta has called for more innovative Public Private Partnership (PPP) approaches for robust, resilient, and safer telecoms infrastructure, and ways to attract more investment into the sector.

Thefactng reported that, Prof. Danbatta made the call Tuesday in his keynote speech at the 2021 Virtual Conference and Exhibition on Information Communication Technology and Telecommunications (ICTEL) organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCT).

The theme for this year’s Conference is: ‘Disruptions, Resilience and Governance in Digital Economy’.

Danbatta noted that despite the various PPP interventions being undertaken by the government and similar initiatives at the Commission, a number of challenges persist in the telecom ecosystem.

“These include multiple taxation and regulation, Right of Way (RoW) issue, vandalism, poor electricity supply, and lately worsening insecurity. All of these factors affect both the tempo and quality of infrastructure rollout by the private sector licensees, who are the main engine of growth in the telecom sector. These challenges also affect the quality of telecom services and by extension the Quality of Experience (QoE) of telecom consumers”, he said.

He therefore, urged the panel of eminent speakers at the event to “suggest better and more innovative PPP approaches that may be explored by the government towards making our telecoms infrastructure safer, more resilient, more robust, and how we may attract more investment into the sector.”

He reiterated that the Commission was committed to continuously engaging relevant stakeholders, both in the public and private sectors, in the country and beyond, in order to ensure that appropriate infrastructure befitting a modern digital economy system is available in the country to deepen government’s determination and commitment to total digital transformation of services in the country.

The NCC Boss said, “the role of public-private partnership in infrastructure development in Nigeria cannot be over emphasised because an adequate, robust and functioning infrastructure is the bedrock of communal and societal development.

“Therefore, to meet future challenges, our industries and infrastructure must be upgraded by evolving an enduring PPP model that services all the sectors of the economy.

“Objectively, the high level of infrastructure deficit and its attendant effect on socio-economic development in Nigeria explains government’s concern and search for an alternative means of providing infrastructure for the Nigeria’s teeming population”, he said.

He said, the Commission has engaged in a number of PPP engagement through Initiatives such as Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF), a multi-sectoral committee of private and public sector institutions whose collaboration with the Commission has bolstered Commission’s determination to continually improve on all principles of protection of telecoms consumers from an array of service challenges as well as incidences of frauds and other associated risks of online transactions.

He said, in a concrete expression of belief in the centrality of PPP principles, the NCC, in November 2020, created a ‘PPP Unit’ as a division under its Special Duties Department.

“The Unit is overseeing the implementation of the NCC’s revenue assurance solutions (RAS) as well as the Device Management System (DMS) project.

“The two projects are being implemented in collaboration with private sector players. While the RAS is intended to address the revenue leakages accruable to the government, through the NCC; the DMS is intended to address the issue of type approval of telecom equipment and devices to ensure originality and standardisation because of the implication of substandard devices for health and quality of service.

“The DMS is also instituted to tackle the problem of SIM boxing and call masking, which not only constitutes threat to national security but also a mark of anti-competitive practice in the telecoms sector and a basis for loss of revenue in tax remittances to the government”, he said.

The EVC, however, commended the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) for its Consistency in Organising ICTEL despite the challenges imposed by the raging pandemic, and assured the Commission’s continued collaboration as much as the social and economic realities permit.

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