‘Nigeria Needs Strong Regulation on Data-centric Digitalisation’

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    Emma Okonji

    Industry stakeholders have called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to do more in the regulation of data-centric digitalisation.

    They pointed out that the world was fast shifting from voice telephony to data communication, occasioned by the emergence of new technologies that are re-shaping individual lifestyles and business narratives.

    The stakeholders who spoke at the ICT Watch Network Award Ceremony with the theme, ‘Broadband Access: National Scorecards and Roadmap to 2020’, which held in Lagos recently, said although the NCC had done remarkably well in the area of telecoms regulation, it still needed to do more in the area of data-centric digitalisation.

    The President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola said, “The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has done a lot of developmental works in the area of regulation and standards but there are still gaps that NCC needs to fill.

    “Some of the area which ATCON thinks NCC needs to fill are the regulation of data-centric digitalisation of the telecommunication landscape and various interpretations of control and monitoring of telecoms infrastructure vis-a-vis states’ created agencies.”
    According to him, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was doing its best to also ensure that standards are kept in specific segments that relates to Information Technology (IT) and software development and procurement.

    The resultant effects of good regulations and standards would lead to further investments in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, improve local content as per youths’ contribution to our national growth, increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in a structured manner, he said.

    According to Teniola, if both regulators and the industry players could work out standards and regulations that are not detrimental to growth, Nigerian Telecom and ICT Sector would become a friendly destination for huge further investment and this would lead to more revenue for government and job creation for the teeming Nigerian youths.
    Managing Director, VDT Communication, Mr. Biodun Omoniyi, who laid emphasis on broadband regulation and penetration, said the NCC must address the issues of broadband penetration in the country, to enable al, Nigerians have access to the Internet at a affordable cost.

    Broadband infrastructure requires huge upfront investments, which make rural broadband investment not viable amidst myriads of other challenges, Omoniyi said, adding that chances for rural broadband development varies directly with the general infrastructural development in rural areas. The more development extends into the rural areas from urban extents, the more rural broadband investment becomes more attractive, Omoniyi said.

    He explained that unless government makes friendly policies for rural broadband investment and take deliberate steps to make rural broadband investment attractive to operators, the chances of broadband development in rural Nigeria, to a great extent, would continue to be in the same space as the general infrastructural and economic development in the rural areas of Nigeria.

    The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, in his response, said NCC would continue to thrive in the regulation of the country’s telecoms sector, which curs across voice and data communication.

    According to him, broadband data formed the centrepiece of the digital age, and NCC would ensure deeper broadband penetration for ubiquitous Internet access.