The Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, affirmed that scaling up the unprecedented development in the history of telecommunication in Africa can be sustained by establishing concrete linkages and deepen the relationship between the telecom industry and the academia.In this concluding part of our review of NCC’s Regulatory Impacts in the past year, we assessed how the Commission bridged the missing integration and collaborative partnership required to galvanise qualitative research in telecommunications in Nigeria.
The Commission in May 2019, announced N40 million endowment funds for Bayero University, Kano (BUK) and the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO).
The fund is being utilized presently by the institutions to drive for innovation, research and development in the digital space with an ongoing commitment to expand the list of benefiting institutions.
The Commission did not stop there. A month after, precisely in June, the Commission, demonstrated its determination to facilitating research and innovation in the telecom industry in Nigeria by presenting the sum of N65 million to eleven (11) universities in Nigeria for driving innovation, research and development.
Through the funding, NCC has shown huge support to the respective tertiary institutions to deliver research results and prototypes that are implementable, commercially-viable and capable of engendering innovation in different sectors of the economy.
This shows how the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, values R&D!
In fact, in one the occasions, precisely the day professorial chairs were instituted at the Head Office of NCC, the EVC urged the beneficiary institutions “to deploy the best of their human and material resources capable of delivering the objectives of this initiative in order to encourage NCC to extend the gesture to more institutions in the future”.
Furthermore, NCC continues to support young innovators by showcasing their innovations at global telecoms fora such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecoms World.
Organising local competition for innovators to competitively encourage them to develop locally-relevant tech innovations that can help grow the economy was part of the NCC’s efforts at promoting ICT innovations.
Remarkable decrease in call masking activities
Similarly, following the enforcement by the Commission led by Professor Umar Danbatta for telcos to deploy technology solution across their networks, cases of call-masking or call refiling has reduced drastically.
Technically speaking, call masking and refilling is an attempt by callers to hide their true numbers when making calls, especially international calls which are not charged, because the caller’s identity is completely hidden on the network.
Thus, the Commission quickly noticed that this raises security concerns, competition issue and portends negative economic implications.
The NCC has, since, swung into action; as series of regulatory measures have been taken towards curbing the menace of call masking.
They include strict compliance monitoring and enforcement by the Commission; imposition of appropriate sanctions by the Commission on licensees involved in call refiling and masking activities; and suspension of numbering plans of some perpetrators and withdrawal of all their inactive numbering plans.
According to the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, other measures taken in this regard include the continuous sensitisation of consumers and other industry stakeholders on the dangers of call masking, which is still ongoing; the development and institution of new reporting requirements on interconnecting licensees that makes it easy and seamless to quickly identify perpetrators of call masking.
So far, the technology solutions deployed by the telecoms companies is now helping to monitor, report, apprehend and block SIMs being used for SIM boxing activities and prevent SIM lines from being used for call masking activities. Through the deployment of the technology solutions and continuous monitoring by the Commission for compliance throughout 2019, cases and consumer relating to call-masking has come to zilch.
Finally, the EVC displayed the understanding that Staff of the Commission deserve all the best place to work.
The Commission gifted itself a Head Office Annex in Mbora, Abuja.
Among several other internal initiatives embarked upon by the Commission to engender operational efficiency as telecoms regulator in 2019 was the inauguration of a five-storey building constructed by Commission, essentially meant to complement its Maitama Headquarters Building. Located at 1253 Cadastral Zone, Mbora District, Abuja, the project had been abandoned for a long period for lack of funds to complete the massive structure.
Today, besides providing nearly a hundred-room office accommodation, it was built with facilities such as swimming pool, lawn tennis courts, underground car parks and a 600-seater auditorium for conferences and seminars. No fewer than five departments of the Commission have since moved into the new building now called NCC Head Office Annex, using the world-class facilities and this has improved their operational efficiency.
The move has also helped to significantly decongest the Head Office Building of the Commission located at Maitama District, Abuja for effective regulatory operations. More importantly, the continuous hosting of most of the Commission’s activities inside the 600-seater auditorium architecturally situated within the new building is now resulting in appreciable cost-saving for the Commission.
This move, thus, gives concrete expression to the Commission’s compliance with the cost-cutting measures of the Federal Government as directed by the supervising ministry.
Watch out for Chronicles of NCC’s achievements [under Danbatta] since 2015!