Sustaining the telecommunications industry as a leverage for the next generation economy

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BUK, Kano, Prof. Umar Danbatta, NCC, Tony Ojob
Prof. Umar Danbatta, EVC of NCC

 

Being a paper presented by Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) at the sensitization workshop on the Code of Corporate Governance in Lagos

It is my pleasure to also welcome you on behalf of the Commission to this workshop to have further conversation on a subject matter which we at the commission and indeed the industry consider critical and germane to the continuing success and growth of our industry which in the last sixteen years or thereabout has performed creditably relative to other sectors in our economy. Much as we are proud of the successes recorded in that period, we are not enamored to rest on our oars, but rather are energized to push harder for even greater performance as the world economy pivots to one where Telecommunications and indeed ICT becomes the major driver of growth in every sector, hence I have deliberately chosen to speak to us on the issue

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Before delving into the compelling need to not only sustain the impact, but indeed to rev up the momentum, it may be necessary to present some statistics to underscore the focus on this subject.

The sector continues to contribute incrementally to the GDP of the nation which currently stands at 9.8% notwithstanding the impact of recession on investment flows. That is against 8.5% in 2015 and less than 1. 00% in 2001. Factoring in direct and indirect investment in the Telecoms sector over the last sixteen years, It has pulled in investment of over $68B and when the GDP impact of these local and FDI are factored in, the contribution of the sector would even be higher than stated.

The sector has been showing sterling performance due to the quality of regulatory oversight provided by the Commission. The code of Corporate governance for the Telecommunications Industry was developed to raise the standard of leadership and management in the sector to sustain the sector’s leadership role as drivers of the overall growth of the national economy.

Sustaining improvement in standards of international best practices will ensure that the sector is strongly positioned to play the facilitator or enabler role which it has come to represent in the contemporary world economic ecosystem. As technology trends emerge to disrupt traditional economic order the sector must leverage strength to provide the backbone needed to ride the storm of the disruption on that evolution.

All sectors of every national economy have become dependencies on Telecommunications and ICT, and failure in the sector would have far reaching negative ramifications and thus the onus on the sector is to build capacity to lead effectively.

In the last sixteen years of the Telecoms revolutions, many operators have fallen by the wayside, largely owing to internal management issues than from technical challenges. As we migrate more towards knowledge economy and higher level economy Infrastructure dependency on Internet and ICT support services it would no longer be desirable for such collapses to occur, hence the need to sensitize operators on those observed poor corporate governance practices which had contributed to failures in the past.

We have as an industry developed this code of corporate governance,  which has since late 2016 become mandatory with a regime of compliance level monitoring instituted, and an enforcement framework developed. This sensitization workshop is part of Commission’s standard consultative approach aimed at securing wholesome industry buy-in.

We are already in the era of internet of Things where every sector will depend on telecoms and IT infrastructure to maximally operate.

The full impact of the expected collaborative partnership of the Industry operators through buy-in of the governance principlesespoused in the code will simultaneously enhance four elements of my eight point agenda in the following areas:

Promotion of ICT Innovation and Investment, as the sector becomes more investment attractive;

Facilitation of Strategic Collaboration and partnership, as there will be greater synergy in the sector which will build trust and lead to greater opportunity for self-regulation;

Promotion of Fair Competition and Inclusive Growth, enhancing sustainability; and

Regulatory Excellence and Operational Efficiency, putting the industry in a leading position to pull the Country in the economic growth direction it is presently being redirected.

We are at the threshold of the next Telecoms revolution in Nigeria and we must position to avoid the consequent disruption that will follow accompany it.

The strategic objective being to entrench the Code as an operational baseline from which entities can aspire to higher performance standards.

 

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