Nigerian Communications has commended the Telecoms Sector Sustainability Forum (TSSF) initiative organised by Business Remarks for creating an opportunity for industry stakeholders and the advancement of telecommunications development in Nigeria.
Themed “Examining the Nigerian Internet Service Providers Viability in a Digitized Environment”, NCC expressed its support for the initiative during its maiden edition event held in Lagos.
The Nigerian telecommunications regulator noted that the forum has provided the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) stakeholders with an opportunity to brainstorm and share perspectives about their expectations, strategies and the way forward will regard to Internet Service Provision.
While commending Business Remarks for the initiative, the commission Executive Vice Chairman, Prof Umar Danbatta said TSSF will afford stakeholders the opportunity to discuss policies, regulatory directions as well as challenges that would lead to predictable outcomes which will impact the Nigeria internet service provisions sub-sector in particular and the Nigerian telecommunications sector at large.
Danbatta who was represented by NCC Zonal Controller, Mr. Yomi Arowosafe reiterated the commission’s commitment to creating enabling environment for ISPs in Nigeria.
According to the NCC Boss, the National Policy on Digitization and the National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025 can only be facilitated through internet service provision and its implementation can make Nigeria compete favourably in the world economy.
“The digitisation of the economy can only come into being when the ISPs are fully encouraged and that is what the commission is focusing on to ensure the enabling environment is created through the development of regulatory instruments that will address the concerns of ISPs in particular and the telecommunication sector at large.
The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who informed that a total of 756 companies had been licensed as ISPs in Nigeria as of March 2022, but only 188 of them are currently active, said several issues including inadequate spectrum, the high price of bandwidth, high cost of Right of Way, and lack of good corporate governance practice in some of the companies have contributed in some of the licensed operators becoming inactive.
While noting that efforts are being put in place by the regulator to address the issues, Danbatta said: “As a result of these challenges, deliberate policies and regulations are being looked at in the Commission in ensuring that ISPs and other smaller players in the industry thrive. Some of the measures the Commission has embarked upon to continue to promote fair play and orderly development of the Nigerian communications ecosystem as well as boost competitiveness of the industry include providing the required regulatory frameworks and interventions in terms of policies, guidelines, and determinations, among others, that will encourage fair play in the telecommunications industry.”
In her opening speech, the convener of the Forum and Managing Editor of Business Remarks, Mrs. Bukola Olanrewaju said: “The word has become a global village. This accurately sums up the important role internet plays in connecting businesses and people globally.
“Given the internet’s increasingly important role and adoption, the shift to digital economy offers abundant opportunities, in which connectivity plays a key role.
“However, over the years, studies have shown that the licence renewal rate of ISPs in Nigeria continues to drop, even as others take up the licence. In view of the critical need for internet connectivity for the digital economy and mass digitalisation of Nigeria, the role of ISPs is central also for uptake of internet of things (IoT).”
Some ISPs at the event sought the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to access foreign exchange (forex) to boost their operations and resuscitate the sub-sector.
They also want the Federal Government to grant them waivers and uniform payment for the right of way (RoW) with the tier one players in the industry.