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Sunday 24th October, 2021

Telecoms

NCC Inaugurates Incident Response Facility To Address Cybercrime Activities

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Hon. Akeem Adeniyi Adeyemi, Chairman House Committee on Telecoms; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, EVC/CEO, NCC; Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy; Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications; Brig. Gen, Samad Akesode, Representative of the NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd); Kashifu Abdullahi Inuwa, DG, NITDA and Dr. Abinbola Alale, DG, NICOMSAT…..

Incidences of cybercrime in Nigeria might become things of the past as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has inaugurated an incidence response facility aimed at addressing incidences of cybercrimes, protecting telecoms infrastructure and encouraging increased participation in the nation’s digital economy.

The NCC Centre for Computer Security Incident Response is the Commission’s industry-specific intervention, whose objectives are aligned to the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) published by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

The NCPS requires each sector to establish a computer incident response team that provides requisite services to the stakeholders and players within each sector.

The overall mandate of the NCC-CSIRT is to ensure continuous improvement of processes and communication frameworks to guarantee a secured and collaborative exchange of timely information while responding to cyber threats within the sector.

Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, who spoke during the commissioning of the project in Abuja at the weekend, described the Centre as a strategic step in boosting cybersecurity in Nigeria and commended the Board of NCC and Danbatta-led Management of the Commission for ensuring successful implementation of the project.

Pantami noted that the commissioning of the facility marks an important milestone in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria, and described it as a significant measure in the support of national efforts at protecting the information and communication technology infrastructure in the country.

“The creation of the Centre is in line with the provisions of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) document published by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), which was recently updated and launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in February 2021.

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“In keeping with the principles enshrined in the policy, each sector is expected to establish a sectorial Computer Incident Response Team (CSIRT) that provides requisite services to the constituents within that sector,” the Minister said.

Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta stated that considering the increasing growth in Internet usage, especially as a consequence of the outbreak of the pandemic, the Commission observed a rise in cyber incidents and criminal activities.

“Thus, the Commission recognises that with the borderless nature and pervasiveness of these incidences, relentless and concerted attention is required to protect Internet users as well as the Critical National Information Infrastructure and ensure they are resilient,” Danbatta said.

The EVC stressed that the NCC-CSIRT has been structured to operate within the framework of the NCPS and the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) to assist the Nigerian communications sector with the management and coordination of cyber security incidents and threats.

He noted that the CSIRT is established as a proactive step towards building trust, and safety needed for growing the digital economy.

“The CSIRT’s services will commence with four main thrusts, namely: monitoring, incident management, communication, and alert and warning. The devices for handling these four areas will be scaled up and expanded as the Centre’s operations grow in order to enhance the digital economy and ensure it yields great dividends to the Nigerian citizens,” Danbatta said.

Danbatta explained that the key mandates of the CSIRT, which will be achieved through a collaborative effort with relevant stakeholders, organisations and agencies, include assisting the sector in the defence and response to major cyber threats and attacks targeted at the members within the sector, providing information, technical as well as policy advisories to the constituency to strengthen the defensive and response capabilities to cyber threats.

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The Centre is also to liaise with other sectorial CSIRTs as well as local and international security frameworks to protect the communications sector and the general wellbeing of the Nigerian people.

Other mandates of the NCC-CSIRT, highlighted by Danbatta, are to provide guidance and direction for the constituents in dealing with issues relating to the security of critical infrastructure in their possession; and to periodically assess, review and collate the threat landscape, risks, and opportunities affecting the communications sector and provide advice to relevant stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (Retd), who was represented at the event by Brigadier General, Samad Akesode, has also acknowledged the establishment of NCC CSIRT as a clear demonstration of the Commission’s resolve to join hands with the Federal Government in mitigating any risk that will emanate as the country embraces advanced technology to facilitate digital transformation in the country.

According to Monguno, “by establishing the CSIRT, the NCC has taken a step that could only be described as impeccable and timely, and in conformity with the highest standards and international best practice which aligns with the requirement of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act, 2015.”

The leadership of the National Assembly, including the Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Oluremi Tinubu and the Chairman, Committee on Telecommunications in the House of Representatives, Akeem Adeyemi also profoundly applauded the Danbatta-led NCC for taking a leading position for sectorial implementation of the NCPS and improving the security of the cyberspace for all.

Others, who delivered goodwill messages, commended the Commission and spoke about the significance of the CSIRT project to the national economy and national security, including the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Bitrus Nabasu as well as other heads of agencies in the Ministry.

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Telecoms

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

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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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Telecoms

Danbatta Tasks Telecom Licensees On Extant Laws, Regulatory Frameworks

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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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Telecoms

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

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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 Techeconomy.ng 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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