By Emma Okonji
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, has assured Nigerians that the additional two Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) that were licensed last December will, in collaboration with the existing two InfraCos, address the shortfalls in telecoms infrastructure in the country, especially with last mile broadband capacity transmission.
Danbatta, who spoke at a panel session of the International Institute of Communications (IIC) and Regional, Telecommunications and Media Forum in Singapore, told the large audience that the newly licensed InfraCos would facilitate the deployment of infrastructure for the telecommunications sector.
The NCC boss noted that the commission had to develop innovative solutions to fast-track infrastructure deployment with a view to deepening the nationâ€™s broadband penetration.
This is just as industry stakeholders had earlier called on NCC to expedite action in the licensing of additional InfraCos to cover each of the six geo-political regions of the country. The stakeholders said the additional InfraCos would assist the existing two InfraCos to begin the rollout of nationwide broadband infrastructure, which they said, would further reduce the perceived high cost of bandwidth in the country and also further boost online presence among Nigerians.
The stakeholders were worried that the continued lack of sufficient broadband infrastructure has created so much difficulties for the telecoms operators to maintain cheap telecoms service offerings across the country.
The board of NCC had recently issued two additional InfraCo licences to Zinox Technology Limited for South-east, and Brinks Integrated Solutions Limited for North-east, bringing the total number of InfraCos licensed so far to four.
The NCC boss, therefore, called for the development of human capital which is in tune with the dynamism of the industry to achieve the desired balanced regulatory intervention.
â€œRegulators must consider the idea of having in-house Research and Development units that reach out and collaborate with researchers, academia in order to align and be abreast of technological innovations and trends,â€ he explained.
Also, in a paper titled: â€˜Building Institutional Capacity and Human Capital: How A Regulator Builds Capacity That Fits For Purpose In A Rapidly Moving Environment,â€™ Danbatta told the gathering that NCC would continue to ensure that its institutional structure remains pliable enough to tackle emerging technologies and exigencies of the telecommunications sector.
He said the commissionâ€™s performance has attracted the recognition of numerous reputable institutions both locally and internationally, especially in the last two years.
â€œIn 2017, the Bureau for Public Service Reforms in Nigeria reviewed the commissionâ€™s structure, processes and work culture, scored it a platinum category and recommended it a model for other public institutions in the country to emulate,â€ he added.
Over a year ago, MainOne Cable Company Limited, and IHS Limited were licenced as InfraCos for the Lagos zone and North-central zone respectively, to provide broadband infrastructure services in the zones.
The InfraCo licences are based on the NCCâ€™s Open Access Model (OAM) in line with the National Broadband Plan (NBP) of (2013 â€“ 2018).
As part of the initiative to achieve ubiquitous broadband penetration in the country, NCC, as the driver of the process, has so far licenced a number of companies to stimulate broadband penetration, to include Bitflux Communications Limited for 2.3 GHz and MTN Nigeria for the 2.6 GHz licences.