By Emma Okonji
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reiterated its commitment to improving the quality of service across networks, despite the challenges of poor telecoms infrastructure.
The Chairman of NCC Board, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye and the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, made the commitment in a recent interview on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
According to Danbatta the liberalisation of the telecoms sector in 2001, set the pace for telecoms growth and better quality of service. He, however, said shortly after the liberalisation, challenges such as poor infrastructure sets in, which adversely affected service quality till date.
“As at 2000, before liberalisation of the telecoms sector, active subscriber number was less than 500,000 with a tele-density of 0.1 per cent, but that narrative changed with the liberalisation of the sector and as of today, subscriber number has exceeded 170 million with a tele-density growth of over 120 per cent.
“The liberalisation ushered in more investors, which addressed the initial monopolistic nature of the telecoms sector. But soon after that, the challenges of poor telecoms infrastructure, coupled with wilful destruction of telecoms facilities, sets in and affected the quality of service across networks,” Danbatta said.
He, however, explained that NCC would continue to use its regulatory expertise to ensure quality of service is maintained through the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) standard set by the Commission.
Durojaiye, who blamed the situation of poor telecoms service on the inability of government and the telecoms operators to re-invest revenue generated from telecoms into infrastructure development and network expansion, said government was supposed to plough back the revenue generated from telecoms sector into the deployment of basic facilities in the telecoms sector, but failed to do so.
“Telecoms operators also have a duty to plough back part of their revenue in developing telecoms infrastructure. The idea of repatriating every single naira generated from the Nigerian telecoms sector out of the country, is a disservice to the telecoms industry, and a major cause of poor telecoms service,” Durojaiye said.
The NCC Board Chairman called on members of the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency, pass the Critical National Telecoms Infrastructure Bill that is before it, in order to protect telecoms facilities from vandalism, which he said, often times, affect service quality.
According to Danbatta, “When I joined the Commission in 2015 as the EVC, I had to continue to build on the existing infrastructure that I met on ground in order to boost service quality across networks.
“When I came on board, there was a broadband target to achieve 30 per cent broadband penetration by December 2018, I keyed into the aspiration and target, in order to boost broadband infrastructure and further improve service quality.
“Although the broadband penetration level as at 2015 when I came on board was very low, and the hope of attaining the target was almost dashed, I had to put all, machineries in motion to ensure that Nigeria attained the target and I am pleased today that we were able to attain and surpassed the target in December 2018. In November 2018, we had achieved 30.09 per cent penetration and by December 2018, we achieved 31.48 per cent.”