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Democracy Day: How NCC seeks to achieve economy not tied to oil

By Juliet Umeh

As Nigeria marked 21 years of uninterrupted democratic rule June 12, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, said it will continue to provide the necessary digital impetus to the actualization of economic diversification.

The commission said it’s number one priority to support the present administration is tailored towards a free market economy which is not tied to oil and gas.

Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, said the Commission is consistently supporting the economy through the provision of more digital access to individuals, corporate and government for the implementation of the agenda of the current administration by available official data.

According to Danbatta, the Telecoms sector has witnessed huge growth in terms of the subscribers’ base, earnings to the government, increase in gross domestic product, GDP, teledensity and increase in foreign direct investments into the sector.

He said: “Today, the sector has contributed 14.07 percent to GDP. Active mobile voice subscribers have increased to over 189 million with a teledensity of 99.16 percent. Internet subscribers have increased from 128,365,704 to 136,203,231; broadband penetration increased from 38.49 percent (indicating 73,466,093 on 3G and 4G networks) to 39.90 percent (76,163,670 on 3G and 4G networks).

“The Commission has committed millions of Naira to driving ICT innovations in the academia and among technology innovators. We have also activated and increased the number of operational Emergency Commission Centres, ECCs, being built by the Commission to 17 states throughout the Federation and the Federal Capital, FCT, Abuja – 18 ECCs in all.

“We have successfully scrubbed over 24 million invalidly-registered subscriber records via Automated Fingerprint Identification System, AFIS, in fulfillment of the mandate to establish a credible database of telephone subscribers.

“As a Commission, we have recently taken measures to regularise activities of all satellite operators including Space Station Operators as well as Earth Station operators; issuance of landing permits to Space Stations beaming signals over Nigerian territory.

“In line with our regulatory excellence, we have now put the Communications and Digital Economy Complex, Jabi, Abuja to use. This move has helped to leverage the various world-class facilities within the complex to increase NCC’s overall operational efficiency and subsequently achieve better cost-cutting measures in line with the Federal Government’s directive,” EVC explained.

The commission said due to its huge impact on the nation’s GDP, developing broadband infrastructure to deepen penetration among individual and corporate consumers of telecoms services has been its major focus.

NCC its management has deliberately embarked on initiatives, serving as digital fulcrum and catalyst that propel the inter-sectoral implementation of the socio-economic transformation agenda of the current government.

And one of such initiatives is the licensing of infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to provide additional robust broadband infrastructure across the geo-political zones in the country.

It said: “Six of the InfraCo licences have been issued to five geo-political zones and Lagos carved out as the sixth zone because of its commercial centrality, while the last and seventh licence for the North Central region is being worked on by the Commission.

This is in addition to several other strategic initiatives being embarked upon by the NCC to address sundry challenges confronting telecoms infrastructure deployment by the existing licensees,” it added.

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