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NCC creates Digital Economy Department to accelerate FG’s agenda




In continuation of its renewed strategy and vigour for effective delivery of its regulatory mandate, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has created a Digital Economy Department, principally responsible for implementing programmes and policies aimed at fully supporting and promoting the national digital economy agenda of the Federal Government.

The Governing Board of the Commission approved the creation of the new department at its last meeting. The department is strategically and structurally placed under the Office of the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC.

The EVC of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the creation of the new department is in line with the Commission’s strategy to create a dedicated team, with the sole responsibility of giving necessary push to the promotion of digital economy vision of the Federal Government being driven by the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

According to Prof. Danbatta, “placing the newly-created department under the Office of the EVC also underscores the importance the Commission places on the need to successfully drive the overall national digital economy strategy of the government through ensuring its effective monitoring and supervision.”

NCC and 5G

EVC/CEO of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta

Danbatta explained that in addition to working with the eight pillars of the National Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) document, the Broadband Implementation Unit in the Commission, hitherto placed under the Special Duties Department and all the staff of the Unit, are to move to the newly-created Digital Economy Department.

A statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, notes that, already, Engr. Babagana Digima, an Assistant Director in the Special Duties Department has been moved and designated as the pioneer Head of the new department.

The NDEPS, as a national policy document, was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2019 to add the needed impetus to the actualisation of the Federal Government’s Economy Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

The digital economy policy document has eight pillars, which include: Developmental Regulation, focusing on effective regulation of the ICT and digital sector in a way that enables development; and secondly, Digital Literacy and Skills, which speaks to the provision of policy backing for massive training of Nigerians from all works of life in order to enable them obtain digital literacy and other digital skills.

This pillar will also facilitate the training of Nigerians.

The third pillar is Solid Infrastructure, which has to do with the deployment of fixed and mobile infrastructure to deepen the broadband penetration in the country; while Service Infrastructure is aimed at supporting Government Digital Services and the provision of robust digital platforms to drive the digital economy.

The Soft Infrastructure element focuses on strengthening public confidence in the use of digital technologies and participation in the digital economy.

Digital Services Development and Promotion is the sixth pillar, which addresses the development of a vibrant digital ecosystem that supports Innovation-driven Enterprises (IDE) and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in a way that engenders innovation.

The seventh pillar is Digital Society and Emerging Technologies, focusing on tying the development of the digital economy to indices of well-being in the lives of the ordinary citizens; mentoring startups on emerging technologies and deploying their solutions.

The eight pillar of NDEPS is Indigenous Content Development and Adoption, which pivots on the provision of a policy framework that gives preference to digitally-skilled Nigerians for government-funded projects in line with the Executive Orders 003 and 005 of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

As the telecom regulator, the NCC is poised to play a significant role in the overall implementation of the digital economy policy and strategy, hence the need for the Commission to create the new department which focuses on working with eight pillars on NDEPS as well as overseeing the Implementation of National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2020-2025.

While restating the Commission’s commitment to driving the digital economy policy of the government through effective regulation of the telecoms industry, Danbatta affirmed that, apart from infusing new dynamism into the existing digital economy function, the creation of the new department amplifies the Commission’s ‘Regulatory Excellence’, which is one of the five pillars of its Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024.


JUST IN: NCC revises determination on USSD pricing




…Initiates fresh engagement with stakeholders 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in furtherance of its mandate to protect the interests of consumers and support a robust telecommunications sector, has revised its determination on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) pricing published on the 23rd of July, 2019.

Eyowo retail

… USSD is leveraged for Mobile Money and other VAS products

The amendment was necessitated following a protracted dispute between Mobile Network Operators and Financial Institutions on the applicable charges for USSD services and the method of billing. 

As a responsive and effective regulatory authority, the Commission recognises that its policies are not static and may be modified from time to time as circumstances demand.

This is coming on the heels of a recent directive by the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, regarding a review of the USSD pricing by all parties involved, following a presentation made by the Commission on the billing structure, determination of USSD pricing, current status and the way forward.

Speaking during the presentation, the Minister stated that he took the decision to suspend the commencement of end-user billing (where the consumers are charged directly from their airtime balance for use of USSD channels as opposed to corporate billing where the banks paid the MNOs for the use of USSD service) because he was “genuinely besieged with a barrage of complaints at the attempted commencement of end-user billing by service providers.”

The Minister also clarified that “USSD is a service to banks and not to the Telecom Consumers, and as such, banks should see themselves as corporate customers of telecom operators with a duty to pay for using the telecom network and infrastructure, including USSD channels extended to them for service delivery to their customers.” 

According to him, “Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have no direct relationship to bank customers, and cannot, therefore, charge directly for usage of USSD channel.”

The USSD channel has evolved over time from a telco-exclusive channel used for only telco services such as balance inquiry and recharges to a channel for the deployment of a broad spectrum of services, including financial, insurance, agricultural, government services and more. The use of USSD channel has become a critical resource in the economy even more so in this era of the Covid-19 pandemic that has witnessed a rise in reliance on digital services.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, in the interest of the consumers and other stakeholders, has revised the Determination previously issued by removing the Price Floor and the Cap to allow the Mobile Network Operators and the banks negotiate rates that will be mutually beneficial to all parties concerned.

The NCC, according to a press statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, also determined that Mobile Network Operators must not charge the consumers directly for the use of USSD channels for financial services in the form of end-user-billing. The transaction should be between the MNOs and the entity to which the service is provided (i.e. Banks and Financial Institutions). 

A copy of the Determination is available on the NCC’s website,

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9mobile launches e-SIM to improve flexible connectivity



9Mobile e-SIM in Nigeria

Nigeria’s leading innovative telecoms company, 9mobile, has announced the launch of embedded subscriber identity module (e-SIM) on its network.

eSIM is a software-based digital chip that comes along with a device directly embedded by the manufacturer. eSIM replaces the traditional physical plastic SIM card for compatible devices and brings a whole new spectrum of benefits and possibilities.

9mobile’s Acting Director, Marketing, Layi Onafowokan, who announced the eSIM launch by the network, described it as the latest move by the company to deliver to its customers the most excellent experience that advanced technology provides.

He explained that eSIM enables multiple usage and adaptation of one subscriber profile across a broad range of mobile communication devices, internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) applications including smart commuting, metering, tracking, and surveillance, rather than the restricted single-device use of the conventional SIM card.

On how customers can acquire the eSIM, Onafowokan said, “Customers can walk into any of our select 9mobile Experience Centres to request an eSIM activation. A QR code will be provided to scan and download an eSIM profile and perform the usual SIM registration.”

Customers that activate 9mobile’s eSIM service will enjoy up to 7GB data-free while those who want to change to an eSIM will only do a SIM swap at the select Experience Centre. Those who purchase a new phone and want to swap back to regular SIM have no problems as they will get a physical SIM card at the 9mobile Experience Centre.

All compatible mobile devices including but not limited to iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, XS Max, iPhone XR; Samsung S20 Series, Google Pixel 3, 3XL, Pixel 4, 4XL can immediately activate this exciting e-SIM on the 9mobile network.

Since entering the Nigerian market more than a decade ago, 9mobile continues to transform lives with its consistent roll-out of ground-breaking solutions.

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Airtel clocks 10: Ogunsanya thanks Nigerians, says telco here to stay



Airtel Touching Lives
From left to right: Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya; Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, and Honorable Minster of Communication and Digital Economy Dr, Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami during the Airtel Touching Lives Season 5 Premiere held in Lagos on Saturday, January 25, 2020.

BY: Chisom Ada

  • Telco refurbishes, renovates 4-storey building at LUTH

  • Provides N50m to Lagos State government for PPEs for health workers

  • Donates molecular Covid-19 laboratory to Ogun State

As a leading telecommunications services provider, Airtel Nigeria, commemorates its 10th year anniversary, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the company, Segun Ogunsanya, has expressed profound appreciation to Nigerians for their unflinching support for and loyalty to the network.

Mr. Ogunsanya also announced that Airtel Nigeria, as part of activities marking a decade of doing successful business in Nigeria, would be spending N300m to support the fight against COVID-19, being the final part of the N1.9b the mobile telecommunications company pledged last April at the early stages of the pandemic.

He explained that N200m would be invested in refurbishing and equipping a 4-storey admission facility for the use of Specialist Units in the Department of Medicine at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH); N50m to Lagos State Government to procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for Lagos State Health Workers and N50m for the procurement of a Molecular Laboratory to be provided by 54 Gene with the capacity for 300 tests per day for Ogun State.

Ogunsanya expressed the gratitude of the board, management and staff of the organization to stakeholders in the telecommunications industry “especially our customers for standing by the company and designating it as the telecoms brand of choice over the years”. He noted that the 10-year milestone would not have been possible without the custom and support of its over 50 million loyal and passionate customers.

According to him, Airtel has succeeded because Nigerians truly believe in the brand and have come to accept the company as an important stakeholder firmly committed to growing the economy, providing jobs and creating platforms and opportunities to empower more Nigerians both young and old.

The CEO of Airtel also commended the Hon. Minster of Communications and Digital Economy, Mallam Isa Ali Pantami, and the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, and other regulators for providing leadership and vision in the industry.


Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in a warmth handshake with the Airtel Nigeria MD/CEO, Segun Ogunsanya, during a function recently

He hoped that recent push by government to make telecommunications facilities Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), which the telecommunications operators have been seeking for, will crystalize into a law soon to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure in the Country.

Reflecting on the 10-year milestone, Ogunsanya stated: “Airtel acquired Zain in June 2010 and rebranded as Airtel in November, 2010. Over time, we have remained committed to our singular vision of empowering Nigerians and enriching lives. I am proud of what we have achieved together and, from the bottom of my heart, I thank every stakeholder (employees, customers, investors, partners, media, regulators, governments and others) for making this dream come true.”

Ogunsanya pledged that Airtel would continue to be a force for good in the country, providing excellent communication services whilst supporting the various communities under its corporate social responsibility activities.

Lagos State Government, Ogun State Government and LUTH have all expressed their profound appreciation to Airtel for the donations.

The Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Professor Chris Bode, commended Airtel for partnering the institution in the fight to contain the dreaded novel Coronavirus.

“We thank Airtel for its generosity and support at a critical time when the entire world is battling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. I am particularly pleased with this support because of the eagerness and willingness of Airtel to support us at this time. The company is not just offering financial resources but is deeply concerned and following through on this important journey of ensuring adequate care for Nigerians who have contracted the virus. The gesture, I believe, will inspire other corporate organisations to invest some of their earnings in building a healthcare sector that will be strong and resilient enough to cope and manage emergencies and pandemics like Covid-19. I salute Airtel for its compassion and caring disposition,” he said.

Commending Airtel for its support to Ogun State, the Governor of the State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, said: “I wish to express our profound appreciation to your organization for magnanimously offering to support the efforts of Ogun State Government to contain the spread of COVID-19 with the procurement of a State-owned Molecular Laboratory.

“It is widely believed that the war against Coronavirus could only be fought and won by aggressive testing, hence, your support will go a long way in ensuring that the State can provide continued testing for her citizenry while also building our capacity for a sustainable testing regime,’ he stated.

Acknowledging Airtel’s contribution towards the provision of PPEs for health workers in Lagos, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, expressed appreciation to Airtel Nigeria for standing to be counted during this uncertain and critical period just as he reiterated his administration’s commitment to fighting the pandemic as well as mitigating the impact on the good people of Lagos State.

Sanwo-Olu recalled that Airtel Nigeria employees were the first employee group to make a donation of N20m from their personal contributions which, to him, was a highly thoughtful and commendable gesture worthy of emulation.

On the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the Airtel Nigeria CEO stated that the company had already committed various amounts and support in kind covering donations to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Ministry of Health and Port Health Authority as well as free Short Message Service (SMS) to its customers, a media awareness campaign, toll-free lines and zero-rated access to important health and educational sites.


VP Corporation Communications and CSR at Airtel, Emeka Oparah with Sadiq Usman (a boy injured by ritualists

Ogunsanya restated Airtel’s commitment to doing business in Nigeria. In his words, “Airtel is here to stay. We are truly global in our orientation but Nigerian in operation with some of the best Nigerians in the leadership team driving both the aggressive growth of the business and the continuous improvements in customer experience.”

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