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Nigeria not lacking in key policy, regulatory frameworks for 4IR – Danbatta

The Chief Telecoms Regulator in Nigeria also made case for stakeholders to support the ongoing citizens’ identification and digital identity project



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EVC of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC’s) creation of a full-fledged department – Digital Economy – was carefully thought out to support Federal Government’s Digital Economy agenda.

The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, highlighted this and more in his keynote today, Thursday, April 29, 2021 during Virtual 3rd Discourse Series of the Advocate Law Practice.

Prof. Danbatta who was represented by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC, Barr. Adeleke Adewolu, informed the gathering that the Commission is keenly aware of the critical need to harness the contributions of all critical Stakeholders across all industry platforms and professional groups to ensure citizens fully participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – 4IR – as drivers and innovators.

The EVC who expressed hope that NCC “can continue to count on the support of all stakeholders in this quest”, said that the theme for the session “Powering the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Nigeria” is of immense importance at this stage of the nation’s development, as it gives stakeholders opportunity to assess ongoing efforts and refocus collective energies as appropriate.

Providing a contextual background to the discourse, Prof. Danbatta nodded in agreement thatThe fourth industrial revolution – 4IR – brings with it the potential to connect billions of people to digital networks ad dramatically improve the efficiency of organisations”.

Putting this within the Nigerian context, the challenge before us today is clear. It is one we must approach with the strongest resolve, and with the full co-operation of all critical Stakeholders in order to ensure that “no one is left behind” in the evolving digital future”, he said.

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Policy and Regulatory Considerations

“As you would note from the above context, we can only harness the opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution – 4IR – as a nation if we put in place effective guiding frameworks, to address the various aspects of the digital ecosystem and ensure their effective interworking in the national interest.

The EVC explained Nigeria is not lacking in key Policy and Regulatory frameworks and instruments which will enable us to play a leading role in powering the 4IR era.

“As an example, The National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy Policy (2020-2030) boasts of eight (8) pillars designed to, amongst others

  • Enable Nigeria become a leading player in the global digital economy;
  • Provide a catalyst to facilitate the diversification of the economy; and
  • Accelerate the attainment of the key national objectives of improving security, reducing corruption and expanding the economy.

“Similarly, the Nigerian National Broadband Policy (2020-2024) clearly highlights the various implementation strategies that would aid the pervasive inclusion and rollout of broadband services across the country whilst also developing a robust and holistic digital economy.

“The NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP 2020-2024 or “ASPIRE 2024”) consolidated on the vision we earlier articulated in the Strategic Vision Plan and 8-Point Agenda”.

He said that the Commission has responded to the policy goals highlighted above to harness the immense socio-economic benefits of ICT for national development; to ensure that ICT infrastructure are up to the standard necessary to provide ubiquitous broadband services in Nigeria; “and to align the Commission’s regulatory efforts with the aforementioned Policy Instruments, as well as the growth strategies of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to ensure Growth, Inclusiveness, and Sustainability.


NCC’s regulatory impacts:

“We have recorded a number of significant achievements in this regard. These include:

  1. The licensing of six (6) infrastructure companies (InfraCos) speed up the deployment of broadband infrastructure throughout Nigeria;
  2. The provision of training and supporting public institutions with ICT interventions like School Knowledge Centers, ADAPTI etc.
  3. Enhancement of physical infrastructure:  in the last five (5) years, the Commission has expanded broadband penetration from 6% to 42.06 as at February 2021; access gap clusters have been reduced from 207 to 114; Fibre Optic coverage has increased from 47,000km to 54,725 km and Base Transceiver Stations for 3G and 4G deployments have increased from 30,000 to 53,460
  4. We also increased funding of Telecom Research to N336.4m and have endowed four (4) Professorial Chairs.
  5. We have also commenced requisite engagements on 5G deployments and some of our licensees have already carried out trials.

EVC said these strides will enable the telecommunications sector provide the infrastructure backbone for powering the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Nigeria.

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“We are firmly committed to ensure that Nigerians in Nigeria play a leading role in 4IR era; Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics, Blockchain, Autonomous Vehicle, Drones and other innovative technologies which are now driving growth and national competitiveness.

“The question of regulation of disruptive technologies without stultifying innovation is one that we, like all other regulators globally, are carefully studying. For now, we have maintained a sharp focus on critical cross-cutting aspects like consumer protection, enhancement of competition, data protection and enhancement of trust in digital platforms through the prevention of cybercrimes and other abuses.

Citizens’ Identification and Digital Identity

The Chief Telecoms Regulator in Nigeria also made case for stakeholders to support the ongoing citizens’ identification and digital identity project.

“As we all know, the Federal Government has articulated a Policy that all Nigerians must possess a unique National Identification Number (NIN) issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC); and that the NIN must be linked with all identity databases, particularly the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration database. To achieve this, we had to take the difficult decision of suspending the actuation of all new SIMs and to mandate all citizens to link their SIMs to their NINs.

“I am pleased to note that we have achieved very significant success in the articulation of a template for the activation of new SIMs linked with authenticated NINs, and that the activation of new SIMs will now be carried out across the country in earnest.

This development, he said, will further underscores government’s commitment to ensure that all the pre-requisites for citizens full, effective and productive participation in the digital economy is guaranteed.

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