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Nigeria’s Broadband Penetration Jumps to 44.5% as NCC Reviews Short Code Services

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broadband penetration

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigeria’s broadband usage has continued to rise, moving up by 3.6 points from 40.9 per cent in February 2022 to 44.5 per cent in July 2022.

This was disclosed in a statement released on Thursday by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), through its Director of Public Affairs, Mr Reuben Muoka, a figure considered hopeful for achieving the national broadband penetration target of 70 per cent in 2025.

The statement quoted the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, Mr Umar Danbatta, as making the revelation at the beginning of a three-day public inquiry on five telecommunication regulations and guidelines which began in Abuja yesterday.

“With the technological advancements anticipated in the coming years, it is expected that there will be a proliferation of devices in the industry. It is, therefore, essential for the Commission to ensure that the right regulatory frameworks can accommodate such eventualities,” he said.

The agency’s boss said the public inquiry, which covered five areas of existing regulations, is aimed at achieving operational efficiency and operational excellence.

He listed the regulatory instruments under review at the public inquiry to include Type Approval Regulations, Guidelines on Short Code Operation in Nigeria, Guidelines on Technical Specifications for the Deployment of Communications Infrastructure, Guidelines on Advertisements and Promotions, as well as Consumer Code of Practice Regulations.

He said the focus areas were already articulated in some important documents guiding the operations of the Commission, which include the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020 – 2025, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020 – 2030, NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, and its Strategic Vision Implementation Plan (SVIP) 2021–2025, which are being implemented towards achieving its mandate.

While stating that these strides are the results of the commission’s regulatory efficiency and focused implementation of policies and strategies of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Mr Danbatta said the public inquiry is in tandem with the NCC’s strategy of consulting stakeholders in all its regulatory interventions.

The EVC further stated that the amendment of these regulatory instruments was to reflect current realities, one of which is the anticipated deployment of the Fifth Generation (5G) technology, and management of shortcodes in Nigeria, including the Toll-Free Emergency Code 112.

Earlier, Head, Telecoms Laws and Regulations at NCC, Mrs Helen Obi, had stated that public inquiry allows the agency to incorporate the comments and suggestions of industry stakeholders, in the development of its regulatory instruments.

She said the process ensures that the NCC’s regulatory instruments are in line with the current realities in the industry as it had done with some regulatory frameworks and guidelines in 2021.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Nigeria Re-elected to ITU Council Seat Till 2026

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ITU Council

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigeria has been re-elected as a council member of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) until 2026, the United Nation’s specialised agency that oversees global telecommunication operations.

As a result, Nigeria will serve on the council again from 2022-2026. Nigeria became a member of the union on November 4, 1961.

The Nigerian delegation was led to the global event by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Ali Pantami. Other members of the delegation included the Chairman of the board of Commissioners of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr Adeolu Akande; and the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Mr Umar Danbatta.

Commenting on Nigeria’s re-election into the council, Mr Danbatta thanked the ITU member states for the confidence it has in Nigeria.

“The re-election of Nigeria as a member of ITU Council for the next four years, again, points to the globally-recognised leadership role Nigeria is playing in Africa and at the level of ITU Council in the area of telecommunications policy formulation and technical regulations development to drive ITU’s mission and vision,” the EVC said.

The election of Nigeria and other countries, on Monday, October 3, 2022, into different regional groups that constitute ITU Council was the high point of the Plenipotentiary Conference 2022 (PP-22) ongoing in Bucharest, the capital city of the Republic of Romania.

The ITU is governed by the Plenipotentiary Conference and the Administrative Council. The Plenipotentiary Conference is the supreme organ of the union. It is the decision-making body that determines the direction of the union and its activities.

The ITU, originally established in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union and became a United Nations specialised agency in 1947, was set up to coordinate telecommunications operations and services throughout the world. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Like Nigeria and the countries elected into the Council, American Doreen Ms Bogdan-Martin, as the first woman to lead ITU in its 157-year history, will begin her four-year term in January 2023.

Bogdan-Martin is the first American to hold the post since Gerald Gross, who served from 1958 to 1965.

Her immediate predecessors were Mr Hamadoun Touré of Mali, who was in office from 2007 to 2014, and Mr Houlin Zhao of China, from 2015 to the end of this year.

The seats in ITU Council are divided into five regions, A to E. Nigeria was elected into the ITU Council, Region D for Africa, which has 13 seats. The other 12 countries elected alongside Nigeria are Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Uganda.

Elections of member states also took place in Region A for The Americas (nine seats); Region B for Western Europe (eight seats); Region C for Eastern Europe & Northern Asia (five seats); and Region E, for Asia and Australasia with 13 seats as Africa.

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NCC Remitted $500m from 5G Auction to FG—Dambatta

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5G auction

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr Umar Dambatta, has said the commission generated over $500 million for the federal government from the recently successful fifth-generation spectrum auction.

He also unveiled plans for the deployment of technology to verify annual operating levies (AOL), tax and other payments by network service providers to the federal government.

Mr Dambatta made these disclosures in Abuja on Wednesday during an investigative hearing held at the instance of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating the duplication of functions of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of the central government.

According to the NCC chief, the revenues generated from the 5G auction, which MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications Limited won, have been remitted to the government.

He said: “We are currently going to deploy a technology solution. We call it Revenue Assurance Solution (RAS).

“We have finished signing the MOU with the Consultant that is going to do this deployment so that we can independently verify that the amount of annual operating levy (AOL) they are paying and other taxes are indeed what they are supposed to pay and, therefore, not shortchange the NCC or government when it comes to payment of taxes.

“We, through what we call annual operating levy, run our operations, pay our staff salaries and allowances and even provide resources for intervention in the diverse areas of information and communication technology in the various parts of the country.

“These interventions are verifiable. There is no state of the federation that we don’t provide interventions in the diverse areas of ICT. We also provide training. We would like to ensure our citizens are ICT savvy by embracing this important technology because that is what the whole is doing.

“That is what we can do to ensure our citizens are socially and economically transformed to change the way they are doing things, the way they collaborate and innovate.

“We have records available to show that we have been contributing a lot to the coffers of the government and a very good example is when we did that successful 5G auction. The proceeds from the auction go to the coffers of the government.

“We don’t normally take anything. It is gazetted that whatever we sell spectrum, we do not keep the money; we normally transfer this money to the consolidated revenue fund of the government.”

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Airtel Touching Lives Season 7 Positioned to Achieve Sustainability Agenda

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Airtel Touching Lives Season 7

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Airtel Touching Lives Season 7 would be used to achieve the ambitious sustainability agenda announced in 2021 by Airtel Africa, the parent company of Airtel Nigeria, the chief executive of the subsidiary firm, Mr Surendran Chemmenkotil, has said.

Airtel Touching Lives is the flagship corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability initiative of Airtel Nigeria. It is a platform the organisation uses to empower and uplift underprivileged people across the communities where it operates.

Airtel Touching Lives takes a reality television show format, allowing the public to nominate causes, communities, and underprivileged persons/people with special needs.

The leading GSM network provider then evaluates and selects the causes to support. The activities are filmed and broadcasted on terrestrial and satellite television stations to inspire other corporate organizations and well-meaning individuals to support the weak across society.

On Tuesday, October 4, 2022, Mr Chemmenkotil had a chat with newsmen in Lagos to announce the commencement of the programme, currently in its seventh edition.

“Last year, Airtel Africa announced an ambitious sustainability agenda with a strong focus on providing access to digital learning for underprivileged children, working closely with the government to uplift the standard of primary education through the adoption of schools and providing access via financial inclusion to the underbanked and unbanked,” he said.

According to him, to implement this agenda, Airtel Nigeria, through Season 7 of the Airtel Touching Lives programme, will mostly seek causes and opportunities that speak broadly and primarily to digital and financial inclusion as well as the adoption of schools.

Recounting the previous season, the CEO noted, “In the last season of the programme, one of the biggest projects we embarked on was the adoption of Government Day Nursery and Primary school in Gombe State under our Adopt-a-School programme, bringing our adopted schools in Nigeria to a total of 7.

“With the adoption of the school in Gombe, we renovated 37 classrooms, renovated two teachers’ offices, renovated, and modernized the toilet facilities in the school, reactivated the borehole facilities with clean pipe borne water and provided furniture for the teachers’ offices as well as educational supplies for the students.”

Other past projects highlighted by the CEO include the renovation of the Ward A block in Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LUTH); The refurbishment of the Library for Blind people and rehabilitation of an IDP Camp clinic facility in season 5, and the provision of an ultra-modern public water system for a large community in Ajah in season 4, among others.

“I am excited, and I look forward to the nominations and the projects that will be implemented, and I also wish to assure you all that, as always, Season 7 will not be different from past editions as we will continue to focus on the vision and philosophy of Airtel Touching Lives,” he said.

Airtel officially invites the public to nominate individuals or communities by dialling 367 or sending an SMS to the shortcode 367. Entries can also be sent via email to touchinglives@ng.airtel.com.

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