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Sunday 24th October, 2021


How NDEPS Is Repositioning Nigerian Economy- Danbatta



Prof, Umar Danbatta, NCC Executive Vice Chairman

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has said that the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020 – 2030) launched in December 2019, was developed to reposition the Nigerian Economy.

Danbatta said this was done in order to unlock the many opportunities that digital technologies provide towards the diversification of the Nigerian economy and to transform Nigeria into a leading global digital economy.

The NCC boss spoke as the Chief host at the ALTON 2021 Webinar/Conference on Citizens Identity Management In A Digital Economy; The Role Of Telecommunications Service Providers held on Thursday.

Danbatta stated that while mobile devices and adequate digital infrastructure play important role in the development of any digital economy, the development of a credible national identity database is crucial to the actualization of a robust digital economy.

“In more developed nations where robust digital ecosystems already exist, digital identity has been adopted as a tool for transformation of governance and service delivery in areas such as transportation, financial inclusion, immigration, healthcare, social safety nets, agriculture, security etc,” Danbatta said.

Referencing a Mckinsey Global Institute Report of 2019, the EVC said it is projected that in emerging economies such as Nigeria, digital Identity alone could unlock 50 to 70 per cent of the countries’ full economic potential, assuming adoption rates of about 70 per cent.

According to him, the report also projects that Nigeria along with other emerging countries could unlock economic value equivalent to between 3 and 13 per cent of GDP by 2030 from the implementation of digital identity programs.

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“Indeed a robust Identity Management System with quality data is key for every emerging economy. Nigeria, and by extension Africa, must, therefore, leverage its digital identity as a reliable tool for socio-economic development and accelerated growth of its digital economy.

“It is on this premise that the Federal Government of Nigeria has prioritized the need to have a single national identity system for all citizens, in order to carry out its mandate in social and economic development, law enforcement, intelligence and political development.

“The National Identity Management Commission is tasked with the mandate to establish the National Identity Database in Nigeria by enrolling and issuing National Identity Numbers (NIN) to citizens.

“Since the commencement of the NIN enrolment exercise in February 2012, the national identity database has gradually grown to over 63 million citizens as of August 2021 representing a meagre 29.7% of the Nigerian Population,” Danbatta revealed.

He said this was accomplished over a period spanning eight years through the rollout of NIMC enrolment centres nationwide, albeit with limited coverage, harmonization of Identity Schemes across different sector agencies and more recently, leveraging the different sectors of the economy to drive NIN enrolment.

He added that the feat was also achieved through the adoption of NIN as a requirement for citizens to access essential services such as financial services, driver’s license, International Passport and most recently telecommunications services.

“It is said that for any digital identity framework or ecosystem to succeed, it must be available and accessible to as many individuals as possible. There is, therefore, global recognition of the increasing importance of Mobile Telephony as a driver/enabler for digital identity programmes especially in emerging countries such as ours.

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“This is because Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have the ability to reach the vast majority of individuals due to their vast networks/coverage of the landscape.

“In the case of Nigeria, with a subscriber base of approximately 187 million and one of the largest databases holding the digital identity of Nigerians, the telecommunications industry is arguably the most critical stakeholder in the development of a credible national database in the Digital Economy Ecosystem,” Danbatta said.

The EVC noted that for ease of citizen enrolment and linkage of SIM to NIN, the Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy graciously approved that MNOs be granted NIN enrolment licenses by NIMC which paved the way for MNOs to engage in direct enrolment of subscribers for NIN at their customer service centres.

This he said, has led to the deployment of over 1,500 NIN enrolment outlets by MNOs, with over 1 million citizens enrolled directly at MNO service centres as of date.

He stated that the NIN Policy for SIM Registration is perhaps the most effective driver of NIN enrolment and the development of a credible digital identity database.

“It may interest us to note that 37% of NIN enrolments recorded during the 8 years since NIN enrolment commenced was accomplished by leveraging the Telecommunications Industry.

“Since the commencement of the NIN policy in the Telecommunications Industry, we have witnessed tremendous growth in NIN enrolment from 40 million in December 2020 to over 63 million as of August 2021 (i.e. 23 million citizens enrolled in the past 9 months),” Danbatta stated.

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The EVC noted that although NIN penetration currently stands at 29.7% of the population, with the deployment of the Android Enrolment solution by NIMC, the rapid growth of MNO NIN enrolment centres is expected to translate to exponential growth in NIN enrolments, adding that this bodes well for the actualization of a robust digital identity database and the growth of the digital economy in Nigeria.

The NCC boss who said that it is the Commission’s target to achieve 65% NIN penetration in the coming months in order to unlock the economic potentials of the digital economy, noted, however, that it was aware that vast resources have been deployed by MNOs to facilitate the accelerated growth of the national identity database.

“We must, therefore, commend you for your collaboration and contributions towards the milestones achieved thus far with regards to NIN enrolment and those that will be achieved going forward.

“The Commission as the Telecoms Regulator will continue to guide and support the Industry by providing the necessary regulatory frameworks to ensure the growth of the Digital Identity and Digital Economy ecosystem,” Danbatta said.





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NCC Warns Telecom Subscribers Against Linking Their NIN To Another Person’s SIM



Nigerian telecom consumers have strongly been warned to ensure they do not allow their National Identification Number (NIN) to be linked to another person’s Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards, no matter how close the person is to them.

The Nigerian Communications Commission gave the warning during its third run Telecom Consumer Town Hall on Radio (TCTHR) programme, broadcast live on Human Rights Radio, 101.1 FM in Abuja recently.

The event was hosted on the platform of ‘NCC Digital Signature on Radio’.

The NCC Digital Signature on Radio is the flagship radio programme of the Commission created to educate the general public on the mandates of the Commission and for sharing salient, consumer-centric and up-to-date information on how NCC is delivering on its mandates.

NCC’s Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Efosa Idehen, who spoke during the radio programme focused on ‘the Benefits of NIN-SIM Integration’, said “On no account should a telecom consumer, however, circumstanced, allow another person to register a SIM with another person’s NIN.”

Idehen said compliance with this advice will protect the true owner of the NIN from any liabilities or negative consequences arising from the use of another person’s SIM.

“If the person, whose SIM is linked to your line use his own SIM to commit crimes or any form of atrocities, it is easy to be traced to you and then, you will be dealt with because the SIM is linked to your NIN,” he said.

During the phone-in segment of the radio programme, which lasted two hours, consumers within Nigeria and in the diaspora, especially from the United Kingdom (UK), Russia and neighbouring countries like Ghana, among others, were able to call and get clarifications on concerns they had regarding the ongoing NIN-SIM integration in Nigeria.

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Discussions largely focused on educating consumers on NIN and its purpose, process of obtaining NIN, why consumers are being asked to submit their NIN to their Mobile Network Service Providers, the benefits of NIN-SIM linkage, the relationship between NIN and Bank Verification Number (BVN) registration, the step-by-step approach to linking NIN to SIM, and the role and uses of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) *346# in the NIN-SIM integration activities.

Efosa was joined in the studio by NCC’s Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, who was represented by an Assistant Director in the department, Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan; and a Deputy Director, Projects Department of NCC, Mrs. Nnenna Ukoha, who jointly educated consumers on the various aspects of NIN-SIM integration exercise.

Other panellists include NCC’s Head, Consumer Information and Education, Mistura Aruna; Head, Corporate Communication,  National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Kayode Adegoke, as well as representatives of mobile operators, including MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9Mobile.

During the radio programme, telecoms consumers were reminded repeatedly of the October 31, 2021 deadline for NIN-SIM integration as earlier given for the completion of the NIN-SIM linkage to 31st October 2021.

The two-hour discussion programme, which was also live-streamed on social media, recorded broader participation than its forerunners due to a combination of the regular radio listenership with viewership on Human Rights Radio’s social media assets.

Thus, it achieved NCC’s objective of using a mass medium to expand its reach to telecom consumers to enhance their protection through information sharing, and education in order to improve the quality of consumer experience with telecom services in Nigeria.

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Danbatta Tasks Telecom Licensees On Extant Laws, Regulatory Frameworks



L-R: Mr. Yakubu Gontor, Director, Financial Services, NCC; Mr. Muhammed Babajika, Director, Licensing and Authorization, NCC Engr. Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC; Mr. Ayuba Shuaibu, Executive Secretary, Universal Services Provision Fund, USPF; Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, NCC; Mallam Hafiz Shehu, Chief of Staff to the EVC, NCC; Mr. Shuaibu Swade, Zonal Controller, Kano, NCC; Mallam Yakubu Musa, Special Assistant to EVC on Media, during the "Talk To The Regulator Forum in Kano, recently.

Telecom licensees in Nigeria have been enjoined to always comply with the provisions of extant laws, subsidiary legislation and other regulatory frameworks put in place by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure a more competitive and sustainable telecoms sector in Nigeria.

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta gave the charge at a two-day tripartite dialogue of the Commission tagged, ‘Talk To The Regulator (TTTR) Forum’ which was held in the ancient city of Kano on Friday, October 15, 2021.

Representatives of over 104 telecoms licensees in different categories and segments of the Nigerian telecoms market as well as consumers of telecoms services were in attendance at the programme.

Danbatta said while the Commission continues to engender an effective regulatory environment, there is a need for licensees to support several initiatives carefully designed to enhance market opportunities for all its licensees.

“Telecoms industry sustainability can only be guaranteed where all licensees ensure full and effective compliance with licence conditions and other regulatory prescriptions.

“So, this forum provides an opportunity to discuss areas where some of our licensees are falling short of their licence obligations, and how we can collectively improve on the present situation,” he said.

The EVC highlighted some of the key policies that have been articulated by the Federal Government, including the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS, 2020-2030); the Nigerian national Broadband Plan (NNBP, 2020-202), the Revised national Digital Identity Policy for SIM Registration, among others, and sought the licensees’ full and unalloyed commitment to ensure their successful implementation.

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Danbatta also briefed the licensees about some activities which the Commission is pursuing to further facilitate the achievement of its regulatory mandate.

These include the recently-launched NCC’s five-pillar Strategic Vision Plan (SVP, 2021,2025); commencement of a comprehensive review of its licensing frameworks; ongoing reviews of other key regulatory instruments to align with the rapidly emerging contemporary developments; ongoing National Identification Number (NIN) and Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) linkage exercise; as well as the ongoing efforts to launch the Fifth Generation (5G) network in Nigeria.

The NCC CEO said, as the regulator, the NCC provides the enabling environment for healthy competition in the industry.

Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC, Adeleke Adewolu, who amplified Danbatta’s voice on the need for strict compliance with telecoms regulations by the licensees, said telecoms has continued to lead national economic growth through effective regulation and adherence to rules of engagement by the licensees.

Adewolu said the sector has consistently driven the growth of the Nigerian economy and has provided the critical infrastructure required for the digital transformation of practically all spheres of life.

He declared that in the second quarter of 2021, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector sustained its trajectory of growth and contributed 17.9 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Adewolu, however, identified three key factors driving the sector’s performance to include a stable policy environment engendered by various digital economy policies; a consistent tradition of firm, fair, forthright, transparent and developmental regulatory oversight provided by the NCC; as well as long-term infrastructure investment and service commitments of telecoms licensees.

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“The NCC has, therefore, organised this forum to enable us to strengthen collaboration along these three lines, to enable our valued stakeholders to give us feedback on ongoing initiatives and to enable you to seek clarifications on issues of concern,” Adewolu told the forum.

Director, Licensing and Authorisation, NCC, Mohammed Babajika, said while the Commission is fully aware and committed to discharging its mandate, especially in facilitating a conducive telecoms environment and guiding the industry to sustain the achievement already recorded in the industry, these can only be possible with the cooperation and support of the licensees.

Babajika said the Commission recognises the importance of various service providers, hence the need to constantly engage the licensees with a view to identifying generic and unique challenges and collectively proffering solutions to them.

The overarching objective of the forum, which is in line with NCC’s vision of strategic collaboration and partnership, was to get first-hand feedback from NCC’s licensees.

The programme will be hosted in other cities across the country during the year.

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NCC 97% Ready For 5G Deployment In Nigeria- Danbatta



L-R: Mr. Tony Ojobo, President, African ICT Foundation; Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON); Olatomiwa Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria; Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Director, Spectrum Administration, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Mr. Femi Williams, CEO NewWaves Ecosystem Ltd; Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, NCC; Mr. Aaron Ukodie, Publisher eWorld Magazine, during the Annual Tech Alliance Forum organized by recently, at the Oriental Hotels, Lekki, Lagos.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed that its readiness to begin full implementation of the Fifth Generation (5G) technology deployment in the country is at 97 per cent.

Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, disclosed the status of the Commission’s 5G technology deployment readiness at the annual African Tech Alliance Forum (AfriTech 2021) held in Lagos on Wednesday and with the overarching theme: “Embracing Changes and Digital Transformation in the New Normal.”

In his presentation titled: “NCC as a Digital Transformation Crusader and Nigeria’s in-Road to 5G Deployment,” Danbatta stated that, following the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a change in the dynamics of people’s interaction, especially on the Internet.

Danbatta, who noted that almost every means of communication has become virtual in one way or the other, however, stated that this paradigm shift in communication has led to a significant increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of the unprecedented upsurge in Internet traffic.

The upsurge he said is occasioned by the use of a plethora of web applications such as Zoom, Microsoft teams, WebEx, Goto, Webinar and so on, noting that these have made remote work, virtual meetings, virtual studies and virtual healthcare delivery, among others, the new normal.

Danbatta stated that even though, the network infrastructure in Nigeria has demonstrated some capacity to contain the surge in internet traffic, a lot of work is being done by the Commission to boost network capacity, sensitise the public and ensure access to affordable connectivity during the period of the pandemic and beyond.

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Due to the network traffic demand, the EVC said the NCC is working with operators to implement a number of initiatives to ensure network expansion. These, he said, include an ongoing plan to auction spectrum in 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) band to operators for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria.

“Consistent with our mandate as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA-2003) and other guiding legislations, we have been working to ensure the penetration of broadband services in line with Federal Government’s targets, as contained in Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020 to 2025.

“Already, we are set for the auction some spectrum slots in 3.5GHz band. The other day I was at the National assembly, I informed the senate that we were 95 per cent ready for 5G. Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 per cent completion,” Danbatta said.

“The Committee set up to auction the Spectrum has already developed an Information Memorandum (IM) which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders. Prior to this, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured Federal Government’s approval,” he said.

Danbatta said this is in addition to a lot of other initiatives being put in place by the Commission to improve broadband connectivity in Nigeria, adding that the surge in Internet traffic induced by Covid-19 has continued to challenge National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and other arms of governments to ensure deployment of adequate resources such as spectrum and other forms of support to increase network resilience and accessibility to telecommunication services.

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“Emerging technologies such as 5G, which NCC is driving aggressively in Nigeria, Internet of Things (IoT); Cloud Computing; Quantum Computing Augmented/Virtual Reality, and similar emerging technologies are playing a critical role in improving remote communication over the internet with great user experience.

“The NCC is committed to promoting this inevitable change and enhance user experience through effective regulation of the telecoms sector,” the EVC said.

The EVC was represented at the event by Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Director, Spectrum Administration. Also in attendance was The Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde.

Other key industry stakeholders participated at the one-day Forum, which also featured an exhibition by some sector players.

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