• Wed. May 31st, 2023

Danbatta: Of Recognitions and Seven Years of Sterling Telecoms Regulatory Strides

ByPeter Oluka

Feb 10, 2023
  • Danbatta recently bagged Vanguard’s Regulator of the Year Award

Professor Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), was at the weekend in Lagos, decorated with the 2022 Regulator of the Year Award at the prestigious 11th Edition of the Vanguard Personality of the Year Award where men and women who have distinguished themselves as achievers of excellence in their various fields of endeavours were honoured.

By now, Danbatta’s award cabinet must need an expansion because of the numerous recognitions the EVC has garnered for his effective regulatory achievements through cutting-edge initiatives, especially during his first five years in office during which Nigeria’s telecom sector has shown spectacular landmarks.

At the glamorous ceremony at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, Vanguard Newspaper Limited, the organizers of the event, commended the EVC’s initiatives which have strengthened the role of the telecommunications sector as a major contributor to the growth of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as telecoms investment inflows from $36 billion in 2015 to over $70 billion.

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Danbatta also spearheaded a campaign to improve Nigeria’s broadband penetration from the paltry five percent at the time of his appointment to about 30% in 2018. The EVC is currently among those leading the charge for the realisation of the new national broadband penetration target of 70 percent by 2025 since his reappointment in office in 2020.

While presenting the award, Chief Abiola Dosunmu, the Erelu Kuti IV of Lagos, said Danbatta was eminently qualified and deserving of the distinct recognition conferred upon him.

Other eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in professional excellence and service to humanity in the private and public sectors were conferred with various categories of awards at the event including the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote who won the Personality of the Year Award.

Other awardees include the Kwara State Governor, Abdulraham Abdulrazaq and Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde who were present and decorated and the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello Koko who won the Public Sector Icon of the Year.

Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa was represented by the Deputy Governor of the State, Barrister Kingsley Burutu Otuaro while Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem.

Distinguished guests at the event were the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande; the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management of the NCC, Adeleke Adewolu; some other members of the Board as well as Management and Staff of the Commission.

Reasons for Danbatta’s recognitions/awards

A cursory look at some key achievements of the Prof Umar Garba Danbatta as EVC of the NCC, from 2015 till date, shows a clear demonstration of the Nicholas M. Butler’s famous quote: “Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.”

1. Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 1:

On assumption of office in 2015, Prof. Danbatta rolled up his sleeves! His articulation of Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) for the fiscal years 2015-2020 after due consultation with industry stakeholders, became the pillar upon which the industry is standing today.

The SVP focuses on an 8-Point Agenda, whose diligent implementation has significantly improved the growth of the sector and the sector’s contribution to national GDP from 2015 till date. They are;

Facilitate Broadband Penetration, Improve Quality of Service, Optimize Usage and Benefits of Spectrum, Promote ICT Innovation and Investment Opportunities, Facilitate Strategic Collaboration and Partnership, Empower and Protect Consumers, Promote Fair Competition and Inclusive Growth and lastly, Ensure Regulatory Excellence and Operational Efficiency.

Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2:

As a follow-up and based on the need to take the Commission to greater heights, the NCC facilitated the development of a new Strategic Vision Plan which was unveiled on September 7, 2021. In developing the new SVP (2021 – 2025), we have taken Cognizance of the several notable advancements in the Nigerian telecommunications industry within the last five (5) years, as well as the current global realities.

These realities, all of which have been incorporated into the New SVP 2, include the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)’s strategic plan (2020 – 2023), the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 for a digital Nigeria, the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2020-2025 and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government.

The new SVP 2021-2025 has five visions namely: Organizational Renewal for Operational Efficiency and Regulatory Excellence; Facilitate the Provision of Infrastructure for a Digital Economy which fosters National Development; Promote Fair Competition, Inclusive Growth, Increased investment and Innovative Services; Improve Quality of Service (QoS) for Enhanced Consumer Quality of Experience (QoE); and Facilitate Strategic Collaboration and Partnership.

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2. Contribution to National GDP and other statistics:

The telecoms industry has remained a major contributor to our national economy with the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry contributing 18.94% to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at the second quarter of 2022, according to the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). From this, telecommunications sector alone currently contributed 15% to GDP as of second quarter, 2022 up from 8.5% in 2015 when Danbatta came on board.

Today, the active telecom subscribers have grown significantly to 218.6 million from about 400,000 aggregate telephone lines in the country as of 2000, on the eve of liberalisation.

This represents a teledensity of 14.7 per cent. Basic Internet subscriptions grew from zero ground to 152.9 million currently while broadband subscriptions stand at over 88.2 million, representing a 46.24 per cent penetration as of November, 2022.

3. Telecom Investment Inflow:

From less than $500 million investment in 2001, the investment profile in the nation’s telecommunications sector hit $38 billion in 2015 when the current EVC (Prof. Umar Garb Danbatta) assumed office and has further surpassed $70 billion currently.

Other major Industry Statistics:

Today, active telecoms subscribers have grown significantly to reach 208 million from about 400,000 aggregate telephone lines in the country as at 2000.

This represents a teledensity of 109.47%. Basic Internet subscriptions grew from zero ground to 152 million currently while broadband subscriptions stand at 85 million, representing a 44.49% penetration as at July 2022.

4. InfraCos Project to deepen broadband penetration:

Increased the number of licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo) from 2 in 2015 to six. The InfraCos are to deploy broadband infrastructure, on a wholesale basis, in the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria. However, funding portion and the entire InfraCo Framework is currently being reviewed to keep it in line with the current economic reality.

5. Reduction in the cost of data:

There has been a reduction in data by well over 75% from $11.15 in mid-2014 to $2.78 at the end of 2019.” – Source: a study by Research ICT Africa’s (RIA’s) 1GB Basket Statistics. The average cost of data now has come down to around N500 from N1000 per Gigabyte of data, considering the fact that most operators now offer 2GB of data for N1000.

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6. Spectrum Revenue generation for Government: NCC, under Danbatta’s foresight and leadership, was the first telecoms regulator to embark on trial of 5G technology in West Africa. After a rigorous process, the NCC conducted the auction of 3.5Ghz spectrum to deploy 5G network in December 2021 where MTN and Mafab Communications emerged as the winners.

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From the auction, the NCC raked in over $500 million which was remitted into the FG’s Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), as prescribed by law.

On September 18, 2022, MTN held a commercial launch of its 5G services in Lagos while Mafab has also launched commercially in Lagos and Abuja. Also, the Commission has issued the third 5G spectrum licence to Airtel Nigeria, following its meeting the requirements in the Information Memorandum (IM).

This is in addition to the revenue earlier generated by the Commission between 2015 and early 2020, wherein the Commission had remitted N344.71 billion to Federal Government’s CRF from spectrum fees and operating surplus.

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The NCC, under prof. Danbatta, also embarked on spectrum auctions, re-planning, re-farming to optimise the usage of the scarce resource, especially as facilitated by the SVP 2015-2020 and also in the SVP 2021-2025.

7. Quality of Service:

NCC has consistently addressed the quality of service delivery through effective monitoring of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and development of KPIs for 3G and 4G to enhance quality of service experience for telecoms consumers.

8. Promotion of Research &Development: The NCC, under Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, created the Research and Development Department (R&D) of the Commission in 2016 in order to synchronise the various ongoing research activities and other development projects being carried out by the Commission; and to to promote innovations in the industry. NCC has committed over N500 million into R&D between 2016 and 2022, as research grants to the academia, startups and as endowment of professorial chairs to drive innovations and local contents development in the telecoms sector.

9. Major disputes resolution:

In 2016, Danbatta’s intervention led to the reduction of the Ground Fee Rate imposed on IHS by Ogun State government from N370 million down to N120 million, leading to the unsealing of 47 Base Transceiver Station (BTS).

In 2017, NCC’s intervention led to the waiver of N221 million RoW fee for MTN in Kano. Also, in 2018, Danbatta’s intervention in Kogi helped in the unsealing of 20 BTS hub sites.

10. RoW Reduction:

Reduction in Right of Way to fast-track telecoms infrastructure deployment through the Engagement of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) et al.

11. Prioritising Consumer issues and strengthening Consumer protection:

Declaration of 2017 as the Year of the Consumer with Consumer-centric initiatives aimed at protecting the rights, interests and privileges of the consumers.

Introducing the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code for consumers to stop cases of unsolicited marketing messages on their respective networks. Around 30 million activations till date from 500,000 in 2015.

The Commission created a second layer complaint toll free line, 622 for consumers to escalate complaints to the level of the Commission.

Issuance of major Directions to MNOs and revision of other regulations guidelines:

Issuance of Directions on Data roll-over, Forceful Subscription of Data Services and value-added services (VAS), Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code, etc.

The NCC has also produced the Revised Consumer Code of Practice Regulations at a Public Inquiry. The draft regulations area being concluded for publication in official Gazette. The Commission has also constituted an inter-agency committee against electronic frauds to protect the consumers. Tackling and nipping in the bud call masking/refiling which is anticompetitive and considered a threat to national security

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The Mobile Devices Management Systems (DMS) initiative was started, in collaboration with other agencies, to prevent negative effect of influx of substandard devices into the country.

12. Strengthening Industry Corporate Governance:

The NCC commenced a regime of voluntary compliance to mandatory compliance to the Code of Corporate Governance for Telecoms Sector issued in 2016 to drive down overall corporate management risks and enhance business prosperity and corporate accountability.

  1. Development of ‘Service Delivery Timeliness’ in NCC’s effort to implement the Executive Order (EO) 001 of 2017 to promote ease of doing Business. This is to drive investment promotion in the telecoms industry.


  1. Ensuring the successful listing telecoms companies on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE). i.e. MTN listing on the bourse is keeping the capital market bullish.


  1. Development of Regulations on Television White Spaces (TVWS) to extend affordable broadband services to rural, under-served and unserved areas in the country.


  1. Danbatta’s successful completion and inauguration of the NCC’s five-storey building, now named the Communications and Digital Economy Complex 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. The building is now being put to effective use to drive regulator excellence.


  1. Regularising Commercial Satellite Operations for Increased Access across the country. A number of satellite companies have been given landing permits in Nigeria and their full rollout will help in bridging existing digital gaps across the country.


  1. The NCC, under Danbatta, asides several other interventions since 2015, embarked on such projects Wireless Internet Cloud, Laptop Project, Computer-Based Test (CBT) Centres project and ICT Park project- All these are aimed at enhancing digital access across the country.

ALSO READ: NCC-CSIRT Issues Advisories to protect Nigerians against Threat Actors

  1. The Commission, in 2021, created the Center for Computer Security Incident Response (CSIRT) with the overall mandates to ensure continuous improvement of processes and communication frameworks to guarantee secure and collaborative exchange of timely information while responding to cyber threats within the sector. The NCC CSIRT is the Commission’s industry-specific intervention, whose objectives are aligned to the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) published by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). The NCPS requires each sector to establish a computer incident response team provides requisite services to the stakeholders and players within each sector. Since its establishment November, 2021, the CSIRT has churned out a lot of cybersecurity advisories to alert consumers on identified cyber vulnerabilities while the Centre has also diffused similar information from Nigeria Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT). The essence of CSIRT is to ensure adequate protection for telecom consumers against cyber threats while online.

13. ICPC ranked NCC as Ethically-Compliant Regulatory Agency. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is the most ethically compliant and integrity-driven regulatory agency of the year, according to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). In its recent report titled, ‘Ethics Compliance and Integrity Scorecard (ECIS)’, the anti-graft agency surveyed 352 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

Danbatta becomes EFCC's Ambassador
L-r: Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission, during the presentation of an ambassadorial badge for entrenching a culture of anti-corruption in the communications industry to Danbatta in Abuja.

ALSO READ: Danbatta becomes EFCC’s Ambassador

The NCC placed first with a score of 81.15 percent, leading 24 other regulatory agencies assessed by the ICPC.

And Danbatta’s scorecard continues…



Peter Oluka

Peter Oluka is the Editor, TechEconomy. Email: Peter.Oluka@TechEconomy.NG

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