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Nigerian Communications Act 2003 should be rejigged to protect small operators – Ayoola Oke

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Ayoola Oke, Nigerian Commissions Act
Ayoola Oke, principal partner, Ayoola Babatunde Oke & Co

Ayoola Oke, a lawyer with specialty in telecommunications, has advised that the Nigerian Commissions Act 2003 should be amended to protect small operators.

Ayoola, a principal partner, Ayoola Babatunde Oke & Co, noted the inability of some provisions of the Act to offer recipe to local investors is chief among reasons small operators (majorly indigenous investors) are experiencing untimely death without making tangible impacts on the country’s economy.

He said this during a chat with newsmen recently in Lagos ‘Developing Telecommunications Law: Jurisprudence and Judicial precedents, an X-ray of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.

The Lawyer explained that big operators always end up with legacy issues; hence, the need to review sections 91 and 92 of the Act which focuses on competition regulation.

“The Nigerian Communications Commission Act 2003 should be deepened to protect the local or small operators.

The former special adviser to Dr Ernest Ndukwe, the erstwhile Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and present chairman of MTN Nigeria, said “In telecommunications and Information Communications and Technology, it is almost as if the regulator holds down the big operators and this gives reasons to why the small operators are dying without meaningful impact on the country’s economy”.

Speaking further on the Nigerian Commissions Act, he said, “Why it is important to protect the small telecommunication companies is that big operators always end up with legacy issues.

“They would have invested money into big projects. So, when technology changes, they would be able to adapt because of their financial wherewithal but the local operators won’t be able to.

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“Section 91, 92 which talks about how NCC should regulate competition. I think there is a need to add some principle especially when it comes protecting the small and upcoming operators,” he said

While distinguishing between the Act of 1992 and that of 2003, Oke said that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is yet to fully implement the Nigerian Commissions Act 2003 and such affecting the effectiveness of the regulatory framework.

The Industry expert noted that the Act established not just a board of NCC but a professional board and governing board but the regulator has not been following the professionalism of the board.

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