The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) in its effort to make sure the country attains 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2025 has continued to devise initiatives and strategies. Recently, it gathered the 36 state governors to fully involve them in the scheme. ABOLAJI ADEBAYO reports
In its Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025, the NCC has set a target of 70 per cent broadband before the ending of 2025 and reach at least 90 per cent of the country’s population. Part of the the Plan also targets a speed of a minimum of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (i.e., 2 per cent of median income or one per cent of minimum wage). The Agency, as part of its strategies to achieve the goal, said it would collaborate with stakeholders. The NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, had said the Agency and the government would do everything to create an enabling and conducive environment for the telecom operators and other investors to invest heavily in the infrastructures to push the broadband.
Delivering a keynote at a forum on Internet Governance for Development (IG4D), Danbatta had said: “In order to achieve these ambitious targets, the plan is focused on 4 critical pillars, namely: Infrastructure, Policy, Funding, and incentives. Similarly, a National Policy on Fifth Generation (5G) Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy was developed to address the provision of the required Spectrum and the enabling environment to ensure full deployment of 5G technology to cover major urban areas by 2025 effectively, and to ensure the security of the 5G ecosystem as well as the protection of data amongst many others. “Regulators are to primarily develop regulatory framework and standards for the telecoms industry. They also come up with action plans and methods for implementation of Government policies through robust regulation to ensure a competitive market, environment- focused compliance monitoring, and enforcement mechanism, marketbased spectrum access mechanisms, Broadband facilitation, and Penetration, capacity development as well as strategic collaboration and partnership with relevant state and non-state actors. “The regulators are also to collaborate and facilitate the exchange of similar ideas, views, and experiences amongst industry experts through appropriate avenues for regular participation in relevant conferences, fora, symposia, and workshops. “As for the operators, they must continue to invest in new infrastructures and capabilities, think more innovative-ly, identify and design novel business models and enrich their insights from other partners, regions, and industries. It is important that they integrate their next-generation networks to provide the flexibility required to foster growth and innovation in the mobile communications ecosystem.”
As part of efforts to realise the objectives of the broadband plan, the NCC has also outlined a Strategic Vision Plan (SVP 2021-2025) to ensure the implementation of the government policy. The Commission has a history of strategic planning and this journey started with the adoption of a Strategic Management Plan (“SMP” or “the Plan”) in the year 2002 as the main driver of its service delivery process. Hence, its first SMP was for five years, from 2003-2007. The Commission’s last Strategic Management Plan (SMP 2014 – 2018) expired at the end of 2018.
The process for the development of a new SMP commenced in earnest with appropriate internal arrangements put in place to ensure a more robust participation of staff and key stakeholders. The new Strategic Management Plan covers a five-year period, 2020-2024.
The SMP 2020 – 2024 includes NCC’s reviewed Mission and Vision in line with the Commission’s mandate as stipulated in the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003. The SMP reinforces its Core Values as the guiding principles that will mould its culture and underpin the effective execution of the Plan. The Plan reviews the internal situation analysis of NCC, and its external business environment (both macro- and microenvironments) and identifies key issues that must be addressed. A stakeholder analysis was carried out to review key stakeholder needs and to identify the stakeholder value proposition.
The SMP highlights the desired outcomes/strategic results, specifies strategic objectives and the initiatives as well as actions that will be carried out to achieve the objectives. It also states the key performance indicators to measure effectiveness of the Strategic Plan and performance of NCC as an organisation.
The NCC SMP 2020 – 2024 NCC Strategic Management Plan – Performance House. The “Performance House” of the Commission has been updated from the SMP 2014 – 2018 to reflect the five (5) strategic pillars of the SMP which will guide the Commission to consistently discharge its mandate, achieve its Vision and the delivery of our strategic results by the end of the Plan in 2024. ASPIRE 2024 is the “Face” of the new NCC Strategic Management Plan 2020 – 2024. ASPIRE stands for Advancement through Strategy, Professionalism, Innovation and, Regulatory, and Excellence.
The NCC also launched Strategic Vision Plan (SVP 2021-2025) launched to ensure the implementation of government’s policies yield achievements. It had designed the SVP to achieve among others: Organisational Renewal for Operational Efficiency and Regulatory Excellence; Facilitating the Provision of Infrastructure for Digital Economy which fosters National Development; Promoting Fair Competition, and Facilitating Strategic Collaboration and Partnership (SCP).
To be able to achieve it objective fully, the Commission last week gathered all the 36 state governors to come out with a roadmap through which the state governments can support in facilitating the infrastructures needed to push the broadband in their various states. The one-day Technical Awareness Forum (TAF) was organised against the background of the fact that the availability, accessibility and affordability of broadband services and infrastructure across the country would unlock enormous opportunities in the telecommunications industry and the digital economy at large. It also was inspired by the need for States, therefore, to create Policy Frameworks and set well defined goals for broadband deployment at the subnational levels. At the maiden edition of Broadband Technical Awareness Forum for Governors (BTAF) organised by NCC and attended by over 170 delegates from the States, Federal Agencies, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, told the Governors that the potentials of broadband are so enormous that if made available for their citizens, will be the best gift for their economic emancipation. Pantami stated that greater support and collaboration will be required from the State governors towards addressing challenges to broadband infrastructure deployment by the telecom companies, which are expected to deploy required infrastructure to provide broadband services in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria. Governor Obaseki, who spoke on behalf of other governors, highlighted the digital progress being made in his own State, especially in e-governance in health and education. He also listed the efforts made by state governments in encouraging broadband infrastructure deployment, as he assured the stakeholders of the readiness and willingness of the state governments to work more with the federal government but emphasised the need for increased open dialogue and trust between the states and the federal government.
Some of the objectives of the forum include: to begin the process of developing a subnational strategy for deploying broadband facilities at the State levels to enable the achievement of the national broadband penetration target of 70 per cent by 2025; provide a platform for engagement with State Governors to deepen their understanding of the impacts and potentials of coordinating and investing in broadband penetration strategies; and provide support for state governments to establish State Broadband Coordinating Councils (SBCC) which would complement ongoing implementation of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2030.
At the end of the deliberation, the forum urged the state governors to: establish State Seed-Funds for Broadband Infrastructure deployment, co-ordination, and facilitation without further delay and as part of the 2023 Appropriation Act; collaborate and cooperate with the Federal and the Ministry Communications and Digital Economy to build out and implement broadband infrastructure at the State level; establish and institutionalise State Broadband Councils, using the strategy of stakeholder engagement, policy framework, capacity development, funding operations, program evaluation and evolution; adopt a Public-Private-Partnership model for infrastructure build out, funding and driving broadband penetration in the States, especially for cost reduction; consider waiving their Right of Way charges for the greater benefits occasioned by broadband access for overall economic development for the States; and also develop State based Broadband Plans and frameworks, including funding and sustainability models for broadband penetration.
The regulator, NCC, was also charged to pay attention to anti competition practices, for instance, by multinational organisations, which muzzle out small operators, especially in Internet service provisioning. Furthermore, the Forum resolved that: each state government should, after a publication of the guidelines for the operation of the State Broadband Councils, constitute the council at the state level with clear terms of reference and institutional support latest by the first quarter of 2023. “The states would be ready to support and work with the Federal Government on the proviso that there would be openness, mutual trust, and collaboration among the parties.
There should be further and deeper conversations using the platform of more and continuous technical workshops, which would involve critical stakeholders (Regulators, Investors, Federal Government, and State Government and other stakeholders). Such further conversations would focus on giving effect to the original objectives and operational model of the licensed infrastructure companies and models of incentivising private sector to invest in the rural and underserved areas.”
If the state governments could implement the recommendation of the Forum, the 70 per cent target of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan would be seamlessly achieved.