NCC Boss Makes Case For Public-Private Collaboration For Effective Service Delivery In The Communication Sector

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The Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communication Commission(NCC),Prof Umar Garba Danbatta has reiterated the need for public -private collaboration to enhance quality service delivery in the communication sector .The NCC boss shared his thought while delivering a keynote address at a panel during the 2021 virtual conference and exhibition on information communication technology & telecommunications (ICTEL) organized by the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Wednesday 28th July,2021 with the theme ” Disruptions,Resilience and Governance in Digital Economy”.

 

By Tochukwu Eluwa-Abia

 

The Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communication Commission(NCC),Prof Umar Garba Danbatta has reiterated the need for public -private collaboration to enhance quality service delivery in the communication sector .The NCC boss shared his thought while delivering a keynote address at a panel during the 2021 virtual conference and exhibition on information communication technology & telecommunications (ICTEL) organized by the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Wednesday 28th July,2021 with the theme ” Disruptions,Resilience and Governance in Digital Economy”.

He stated that the concept of Public Private Partnership has become one of the commonly used model of collaboration among stakeholders to fast track socioeconomic development whether at the global, regional and national levels. Prof Danbatta further added that,In April, 2017, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) signed a Joint Declaration in Geneva, “on the advancement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), in particular industrialization, infrastructure development and innovation”. The UNIDO and ITU, driving innovation in ICTs together with 193 Member States and over 700 private sector entities and academic institutional membership, planned to strengthen country-level collaborations.

He also revealed that, the two agencies resolved to contribute to global, regional and national efforts toward achieving SDG9, and particularly through action plans that are designed to attract public-private partnerships and investment. The collaboration between ITU and UNIDO, thus, represents a very important commitment from global organisations to deliver measurable and sustainable solutions within countries, towards achieving the SDGs, with a focus on “infrastructure, industry and innovation,” through a PPP arrangement. It is on record that this kind of partnership is helping to fast track the realization of SDG9 with derivable quantifiable benefits to industry, including small and medium-sized enterprises in emerging economies.

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The NCC henchman argued that , the role of public-private partnership in infrastructure development in Nigeria cannot be over emphasised because an adequate, robust and functioning infrastructure is the bedrock of communal and societal development.He Therefore adduced that, to meet future challenges, our industries and infrastructure must be upgraded by evolving an enduring PPP model that services all the sectors of the economy. Objectively, the high level of infrastructure deficit and its attendant effect on socio-economic development in Nigeria explains government’s concern and search for an alternative means of providing infrastructure for the Nigeria’s teeming population.According to him, in 2005, the Federal Government established the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) with a clear objective to accelerate investment in national infrastructure through private sector funding; and to assist the Federal Government of Nigeria and its Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to establish and implement effective Public Private Partnerships (PPP) processes. He said, “it is gratifying that state governments have also adopted variants of PPP models in order to tackle the challenge of infrastructure in their respective jurisdictions”.

The NCC chief executive while addressing the participants at conference made it known that, theCommission is particularly noted for its faith in strategic collaboration and partnership as a central principle of its stakeholders’ relationship management and regulatory activities. He opined that,the NCC’s daily regulatory processes are marked by consultations with a wide spectra of stakeholders as well as strategic partnering and collaboration with both private sector players and other sister public sector organisations.

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He posited that,following the liberalisation of the telecoms sector in 2001, the Commission has continue to facilitate investment inflow into the country’s digital space through licensing of many private sector players, who are deploying services in different segment of the nation’s telecom market. Prof Danbatta said ,this has resulted in rollout of massive infrastructure ranging from the deployment of Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) and laying of thousands of kilometres of fibre optic cables to every nooks and crannies of the country. Hence, the sector has grown significantly in investment with significant access to an array of voice, data and other kind of enterprises.He added that,the Commission has also continued to enhance existing infrastructure through the licensing of a category of private sector players known as Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo), who are to deploy fibre optic cable on a wholesale basis across the country with broadband Point of Access (PoA) in each of the 774 Local Government Areas of the country. This InfraCo scheme is running on a PPP arrangement, where the government provides a counterpart fund as a subsidy to stimulate faster, a more robust and resilient broadband infrastructure rollout across the country.

The NCC boss,told attendees of the conference,that while broadband penetration in Nigeria has reached 45% at the moment, from less than 6% in 2015, and by that fact stimulating digital activities in the country,he said, there still exist access gaps which the Commission is making efforts to bridge.He stated that, It is noteworthy that the hitherto existing access gaps of 217 identified in the country have been reduced to 114 through increased collaboration between the Commission and stakeholders in the telecom ecosystem. Hence, the InfraCo project being implemented by NCC and other similar regulatory initiatives which has PPP component are in line with policy expectations of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025; the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030; the NCC Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, as well as a number of regulatory instruments and frameworks which envisioned the PPP model as a central organising principle for fast-tracking the development of Nigeria’s telecoms industry.

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He argued test, the NCC is renowned for its tradition of engaging in robust stakeholder consultation on the development of its various regulations and policy initiatives. According to him,the Commission consistently engages private sector organisations, in clear expression of its PPP philosophy, to carry out specific tasks, notably, in carrying out cost-based studies, whose outcomes have been used by the Commission to improve regulations and policy decision that have far-reaching positive implications on the economy.

Prof Danbatta therefore urged, our panel of eminent speakers present at the conference made to suggest better and more innovative PPP approaches that may be explored by the government towards making our telecoms infrastructure safer, more resilient, more robust, and how we may attract more investment into the sector. There is no gainsaying the fact that the next frontier for enriching digital economy globally, is through sustained investment in broadband or high-speed Internet access.

He reiterated the Commission’s is committed to continuously engaging relevant stakeholders, both in the public and private sectors, in the country and beyond in order to ensure that appropriate infrastructure befitting a modern digital economic system is available in the country to deepen government’s determination and commitment to total digital transformation of services in the country.

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