A rebirth in the telecom sector

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By Best Agbese

The Nigeria telecom market has undergone significant transformation over the past few years owing to various initiatives taken by the Government to boost the country’s internet infrastructure and broadband connection, growth in data consumption from businesses as well as individuals, growth in 5G deployments across the country and various innovations by the significant telecom market vendors operating in Nigeria.

There is good news. The good news is the recent drive by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to rejig the operations of the NCC to further improve consumer quality of experience and build on the industry’s resilience. There is no doubt that there is a new sheriff in town.

The new Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Aminu Maida, has said he would align the Commission’s regulatory focus to achieve the promises of the Strategic Roadmap of the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, which of course derives from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda to advance the nation’s digital transformation. This is a bold one, and the indices are already visible.

It is too short a time to make an assessment, but whatever scepticism, if any, that had greeted the appointment of Dr Aminu Maida has been dispelled already. The new EVC hit the ground running with plans to ensure that the NCC strategically focuses on providing all Nigerians with access to affordable and reliable broadband services through effective broadband infrastructure diffusion across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

NCC helmsman has also emphasized the importance of effective spectrum management and utilization in supporting the envisioned digital connectivity agenda, which is critical to service deployment to the generality of Nigerians and businesses in the country.

These are indeed laudable initiatives that would re-position the telecoms sector for more excellent service delivery in the country. This is because a thriving digital economy is central to achieving sustainable development and quality of life for all citizens.

It is instructive to state that the NCC under Dr Aminu Maida has expressed its total commitment to the implementation of the Ministerial Five Pillars of the Strategic Blueprint aimed at holistically transforming the nation’s economy to achieve 70% digital literacy by 2027 and a capital increase raised by Nigerian tech start-ups by 50% year-on-year from $1 billion/year in 2022 to $5 billion/year in 2027, among other targets.

In the words of the NCC helmsman, “In line with the vision of the Ministry, we are targeting the provision of coverage of, at least, 80 per cent of the country’s population, especially the under-served and un-served populations by the end of 2027; we also intend to secure between 300-500 per cent increase in broadband investment by the end of 2027; while we work to reduce the gap of unconnected Nigerians in rural areas from 61 per cent to less than 20 per cent by 2027.

That is not all. He said, “as a Commission, we will also ensure effective management of our spectrum resources as pathways for the growth of new and emerging technologies, improvement of businesses, and seamless access to government services.” These are indeed brilliant initiatives.

I commend the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Dr Aminu Maida, for the passion and commitment he brought to the table since his appointment. It has been a season of innovations that would re-position the NCC for productivity. Therefore, It is unsurprising that the new focus at the NCC has begun to yield results.

This is indeed a positive step in the quest to re-position the NCC to promote the provision of modern, universal, efficient, reliable, affordable and easily accessible communications services and the most comprehensive range thereof throughout Nigeria to encourage local and foreign investments in the Nigerian communications industry and the introduction of innovative services and practices in the industry by international best practices and trends.

Another strong point is that the new leadership of the NCC has been engaging stakeholders in the sector on ways to be re-positioned. The Aminu Maida-led management of the NCC has displayed an unalloyed commitment to re-positioning the telecoms sector by entrenching a robust regulatory framework for the Nigerian communications industry and creating an effective, impartial, and independent regulatory authority.

Recently, there has been much to discuss in the operations of the NCC and the communications ministry. But one thing stands out, and it is the fact that there is a rebirth in the sector. It is not a fluke but a function of dedication, passion, and the entrenchment of transparency and accountability.

The Aminu Maida-led NCC has hit the ground running, and it behoves stakeholders in the sector to support the reforms introduced in recent times. The focus is clear, and the road map aligns with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the present administration.

The importance of a vibrant telecoms sector in socioeconomic growth and development can not be overemphasized. In today’s world, all countries that aspire to develop and be part of the global village make efforts to build their telecommunication industry. This is because telecommunication infrastructure plays a vital role in a country’s economic, political, and social development.

It is expected to stimulate economic growth and development. It has been shown that telecommunication services are connected to a wide range of economic production and distribution activities, delivery of social services, and government administration—my for two cents.

Agbese writes for 3rd Eye Dimension Media, Dundee.