Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC Dr. Eugene Juwah
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) stakeholders have identified stiff regulatory and stakeholders’ conflicts among telecom operators as key factors that are affecting telecoms growth in the country.
They called for quick collaboration between government and telecoms operators on one hand and among telecoms operators on the other hand in order to address the issue.
The stakeholders spoke at a forum organised recently in Abuja by PostNet Communications in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The forum seeks to find a lasting solution to environmental, regulatory, and stakeholders’ conflicts in the country.
Telecom operators represented at the one-day workshop listed multiple regulation, multiple taxation, lengthened approval time for right of way, wilful destruction of telecoms facilities, incessant closure of telecoms sites, among others, as major challenges facing the telecoms industry.
They attributed the challenges to the major cause of poor service quality in recent times.
Addressing the issue, Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC Dr. Eugene Juwah, who was represented by Director of Regulation and Strategy, Mrs. Lolia Emakpore, said there was need to address environment, regulatory, and conflict management in the telecoms industry, following the huge achievements recorded in the country’s telecoms industry in the last eleven years.
“Telecoms infrastructure has become key national infrastructure. The sector has created jobs and attracted investments, but faced with several challenges,” Juwah said.
He added that “there are no regulatory environments in developing countries without peculiar challenges, which may include poor power supply, difficulties in the use of public infrastructure, multiple taxation and regulation and facilities vandalism,” among others.
Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, who was represented by a Director in charge of Postal Services in the Ministry, Mr. John Ayodele, commended the organisers, insisting that the forum will address the issue.
The Minister said the Federal Government had given approval for right of ways, which must be adhered to. The essence, she said, was to ensure clear regulatory intervention to avoid difficulties faced by telecoms operators.
Speaking from a regulatory point of view, Head, Regulatory and Compliance Monitoring at NCC, Mr. Ephraim Nwokenneya, said there was need to regulate the telecoms industry in order to maintain sanity in the industry. According to him NCC devised several measures to regulate the industry, putting several models that ensure transparency. Looking at sanctions as a means of regulation, Nwokenneya said the dynamics of sanctions in telecoms industry, principle of compliance and regulation were necessary in managing issues of conflicts in the telecoms industry.
He said compliance and sanctions must come into play in regulating the industry and that enforcement was essential to enable NCC to protect the consumer and the operators. He said sanctions must be severe enough to discourage issues that would lead to conflicts, and that there must be transparency in all sanctions applied by the industry regulator.
According to him, NCC had about 20 sets of regulatory rules, while in the United States there are over 100 sets of rules and each has clear penalties on sanctions.
Addressing the issue of managing stakeholders’ conflict in the telecoms sector, telecoms operators called for quick intervention on the part government to address the issues raised.
They called for amendment of compliance law, provision of necessary infrastructure, and sufficient notice of enforcement before implementation, insisting that arbitrary sealing of telecoms sites would continue to hamper service quality in the country. council above any other agency in a position to become a commercial regulator.
A maritime lawyer, Mr. Okesanmi Ogunlana, who spoke with THISDAY said the Shippers Council is the only agency of government that can effectively act as a commercial regulator because the agency had in the past been asked to perform tasks similar to commercial regulation in the ports.