The Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) will end up regulating service providers licensed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) if the draft of NITDA’s bill 2021 before the committee of the National Assembly sails through.

This will serve as double regulation for the Information and Communications Technology sector, with service providers paying more for government regulations and end-users being the greatest losers as they will ultimately, pay more for telecom services.

NITDA becoming a regulatory body is a deviation from its primary objective, which is to use ICT as a tool in tertiary institutions to drive the mechanism of the education sector in the country. As the Agency of the Federal Government responsible for developing Information Technology in Nigeria, NITDA is empowered by its enabling Act to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitory, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria.

ITPulse’s review section by section of the proposed bill shows that section 1 (e)  of the draft bill states ‘promoting the use of innovative digital services, systems, practices and emerging technology in Nigeria’ but the 2007 Act establishing the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency does not contain such provisions. Meaning, the generic use of ‘digital services’ and ‘emerging technologies’ will bring current licensees of the NCC under the regulatory purview of NITDA. The broad meaning of the two concepts will wrap around the current service areas of ISPs and MNOs and the services riding on their platforms.

Also, the objectives of the bill, which is to create an effective, impartial, and independent regulatory framework for the development of the Nigerian information technology sector and digital economy, will lay the foundation of converting NITDA from an IT Development Agency to a regulatory outfit. NITDA’s Act 2007 contains no such provisions.

The inclusion of the concept of ‘Digital Economy’ as part of its regulatory purview expands its frontiers to matters within the exclusive regulatory mandate of the NCC. This will impact on the NCC’s functions in Section 4 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003; which empowers the Commission to regulate communications services that drive the digital economy.

Even Section 1 (d)  promoting the deployment and use of indigenously produced goods, services and platforms for the development of the digital economy, will also bring current licensees of the NCC under the regulatory purview of NITDA. It is worth noting that the Draft Bill in Clause 33 defines “Platform” to refer to a “Foreign digital platform targeting the Nigerian market”. . This definition is clearly making allusion to the internet and the platform providers being enabled by internet services provided by the licensees of the NCC.

This will overlap with the NCC function to encourage the manufacturing of communications devices and systems in the country.

Also Section 1  (g) –  protecting the rights and interests of all consumers, and investors in the Nigerian information technology and digital economy; is a reflection of the provisions of Section 4 (1) (b) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 that mandates the NCC to protect and promote the interests of consumers against unfair practices “including but not limited to matters relating to tariffs and charges for and the availability and quality of communications services, equipment and facilities.

Therefore this section will create a regulatory overlap for matters that relate to consumers of communications services. This further creates areas of overlap with NCC functions as it concerns Consumer Affairs and Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement.

The review has shown the different areas of overlap between the Draft Bill and the Nigerian Communications Act 2003; this will create structural and regulatory conflicts in Nigeria. Yet the most worrisome impact of the Draft Bill is its immense potential to jeopardize the vibrant communications sector by creating uncertainty and drawing a grey map of applicability. This will not only jolt investors and distort the market structure, but can lead to multiple regulatory oversights and a lack of coordination in managing the Sector. Therefore, the impact is far-reaching and fundamental to market sustenance and deepening the gains of the sector that has twice driven Nigeria out of recession in the last six years.

There is a need to reconsider the Draft Bill as the matters it seeks to legislate on are already being regulated by the NCC as the sole and exclusive regulator of communications services in Nigeria and this approach has midwife the country from liberalization to the exponential growth that makes the sector attract commendations and emulations from other countries.

NITDA should thus, continues on the path of its original mandate to develop information technology, drive skills building and standardize the deployment of IT tools by the Nigerian government. This mandate will then be complemented by sectoral regulators and ensure a broad and well-articulated national approach to the deployment of communications services and IT tools.


ITPulse is a wholly information technology communication (ICT) news website, with a special focus on the African continent. The website provides up-to-date biz-tech news, analysis and comprehensive and thorough insight into the continent's ICT terrain

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