Effective regulation of the communication stream has proven to result in economic growth, increased investment and better quality in any nation. The overall progress recorded in the Information and Communications Technology sector of any nation is a drive-force, largely defines its economic growth.
Interestingly, other sectors such as Banking, Education, agriculture, manufacturing and other spheres have a long stem or say tap-roots which connects to the ICT sector of any nation.
Overtime, the Nigerian Communication Commission has executed brilliant acts which has saved the nation’s economy. Acts which include sanctioning recalcitrant network providers, shutting down illegal communication services with fraudulent registrations and sale of pre-registered SIM cards among other acts.
NCC is the independent regulatory body for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria, created under Decree number 75 by the [Federal Military Government of Nigeria] on 24 November 1992. The NCC was charged with the responsibility of regulating the supply of telecommunications services and facilities, promoting competition, and setting performance standards for telephone services in Nigeria. The Decree has been abrogated and replaced with the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003.
Currently headed by Adeolu Akande, an Oyo State born Professor, with a board of eight other commissioners, comprising of the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, two Executive Commissioners, and five other non-executive commissioners, NCC Over the years has earned its reputation as a foremost Telecom regulatory agency in Africa. The Commission has utilized the use of ICT for different aspect of national development. The Commission has initiated several programs such as State Accelerated Broadband Initiative (SABI) and Wire Nigeria Project (WIN) to help stimulate demand and accelerate the uptake of ICT tools and services necessary for the enthronement of a knowledge society in Nigeria.
Being an independent National Regulatory Authority for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria, the Commission has created an enabling environment for healthy competition among operators in the industry as well as ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services throughout the country.
The Commission has witnessed growth in the last couple of years through effective regulation of the telecommunications sector, which has brought with it a lot of advantages for the Nigerian economy. As at March 2014, the total of 127 Million subscribers was recorded by NCC, which approximately indicates about 78.9% penetration rate.
The 2013 rebased Gross Domestic Products Data, also indicated that the telecommunication sector of the country, contributed 8.68% to the Nigerian economy. That same year, the sector contributed about 6.97 Trillion out of the total rebased GDP of N80.22 Trillion.
Consistent with Section 70 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA 2003), the Commission is empowered to make and publish regulations on matters such as, but not limited to; written authorisations, permits, assignments and licences granted or issued under the NCA 2003; the assignment of rights to spectrum or numbers; communications related offences and penalties; any fees, charges, rates or fines to be imposed; a system of universal service provision; Quality of Service (QoS) standards; and any other matters as are necessary to enforce the provisions of the NCA 2003.
In order to achieve its mandate, the Commission has put in place the necessary licensing and regulatory framework for the supply of telecommunications services.
The organisational structure of the Commission is comprised of twenty one departments, with the Board of Commissioners who have oversight functions over all the activities of the Commission. While the Executive Vice Chairman is the Chief Executive Officer and most senior executive member of the Board of Commissioners, he also supervises about eight departments who report to him directly.
The Executive Commissioner Technical Services supervises six departments, who look into technical standards, emerging technologies, information security and spectrum and engineering issues. Also, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management directly supervises issue relating to stakeholders in the telecommunications industry, vendors, service providers and consumers.
Though faced with a couple of challenges such as Quality of service, which could be a result of the astronomical growth in telephone subscription over the years, the telecommunications industry has been battling with the challenge of poor quality of network. Recall that this resulted the 2013 craze of porting from one network provider to the other, while a subscriber still retains his number. This has actually given birth to a healthy and robust competition among these network providers.
In recent times, telecommunication infrastructures across the nation have suffered massive vandalization, which has also affected the telecommunication sector. At many points, generators meant to power Operators’ masts have been stolen by hoodlums. Noteworthy, is NCC’s efforts seeking government’s support to pass a bill to classify telecommunication infrastructure as a critical national resource and provide huge sanctions for any acts of vandalism against any infrastructure built by government or any telecommunication company.
The unreliable power supply across the nation is also a known enemy to the telecommunication sector. It calls for urgent intervention from stakeholders. Operators are becoming weary of building new base stations, because building new base stations would require at least two new sets of generators. This, is eating deep into their investments and making them wary of these investments.
The associated hindrances and tailbacks in a typical bureaucratic system is also killing the sector. The burden of multiple regulation fees by multiple government ministries and agencies has also not been too helpful, especially for operators. It is pertinent that Government streamlines its regulatory interventions into one Commission, while other Ministries or MDA only play a custodian or supervisory role over the Commission. This will result in better accountability in the telecommunication sector. Government should consider looking into the overlapping functions of its bodies and parastatals.