The news of his reappointment as the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), did not come as a surprise to key players in the industry. Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has proven that he knows his onions in the Telecommunications industry and he is a capable hand in the Agency he supervises.
President Muhammad Buhari did not take a second thought in recommending and approving his reappointment for another five-year tenure as the EVC of NCC, and he has been screened by the Senate Screening committee.
During his screening, the Senate screening committee commended his deep knowledge of the industry, and positive results seen in the telecoms sector in his first 5-year tenure, as the EVC. The Committee will report the outcome of the screening exercise to the House for confirmation of Danbatta’s reappointment during the next legislative sitting.
A prominent member of the screening committee, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, as well as other committee members, including Sen. Sandy Onor, Sen. Abiodun Olujimi, Sen. Bamidele Opeyemi, Sen. Omar Jeff, Sen. Kashim Shettima and Sen. Bukachuwa, commended Danbatta’s impressive performance in piloting the affairs of the country’s digital ecosystem.
Oloriegbe noted that the screening and confirmation exercise is in accordance with the provisions of Section 8 subsections 1 and 4 of the Nigerian Communications Commission Act (NCA), 2003.
Far from it, these are not figments of imagination or a little white lie; notable among his achievements was the establishment and implementation of the NCC’s auspicious strategic 8-Point Agenda, which gave the direction for the activities of the commission throughout the five-year period.
He also presented to the committee efforts made to improve the sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as well as improvements in Quality of Service (QoS) delivery, broadband infrastructure deployment, broadband penetration, effective spectrum utilisation, consumer empowerment, technology innovation.
Danbatta once said, the growth of broadband in the country has been a critical area of focus for the NCC in the last few years. The impact of broadband penetration on economies across the world has been empirically proven.

Through his concerted effort and brilliant cooperation of his lieutenants, the Commission articulated a new broadband infrastructure framework called the Open Access Framework to facilitate the rapid deployment of broadband infrastructure across the country. Under this framework, the country has been divided into seven licensing areas, where each area will have a licensed Infrastructure Company (InfraCo).

Professor Danbatta also added that this would support such strategic initiatives as accelerating the deployment of metropolitan broadband infrastructure across the country that is currently inadequate, successfully conducting licensing for the Lagos and North Central zones, licensing several retail service providers like ISPs to drive broadband delivery to subscribers, transparent auctions of one slot of 30 MHz bandwidth in the 2.3 GHz spectrum band on a wholesale basis to provide the required infrastructure for RSPs for the delivery of broadband services to customers, and encouraging the deployment of 3G Mobile broadband services in every state across the country. The impact of this can be seen in the exponential growth of subscribers with internet access from about 30.9 million in December 2012 to about 97 million in September 2015.

The NCC is also effectively engaging with bodies like the Nigeria Governors Forum to address the issues negatively impacting investment in broadband infrastructure across the country, such as Right of Way charges, as well as streamlining taxes and fees required for the deployment of critical telecommunications infrastructure.

Broadband will transform the economy and the way things are being done, perhaps on par with the transformative effects of electricity distribution. Broadband will determine the socioeconomic development of every country in the 21st century. The Nigerian government has therefore created a national broadband plan, which is envisioned to contribute up to 1.3% to GDP.

Broadband will also enable the rollout of services that will benefit both the urban and rural population. The NCC has been assigned the responsibility of licensing infrastructure companies that will provide broadband infrastructure. That process has started with two licenses already issued; Mainone was licensed for Lagos, while another infrastructure company has been given the license to deploy Wi-Fi infrastructure in the North Central zone, where Abuja is located. There are five more zones to license. As soon as we have deployed the necessary technology to facilitate the rollout of broadband services, then the operators will be licensed and the spectra will be provided. We will have achieved the two main milestones of installing a mostly fiber broadband infrastructure in every major city and all rural areas across the country, and successfully auctioning the broadband spectra.

Also, in line with the strategic 8-point agenda, Danbatta and the commission have gone a long way in curbing fraudulent Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) registration and 112 Emergency Number towards ridding the country of insecurity, among others.
Indeed, he is not alone in this success ride. He has received tremendous support from the lawmakers, who have supported the commission with bills which has helped the execution of projects by the Commission.
“As a Commission, we are committed to challenging our current achievements. Consequently, we are poised to work more with the National Assembly and other necessary stakeholders in order to ensure we take Mr. President’s digital agenda for the country to the next level in the next five years,” he once said.

Through his efforts, the Commission has raised the pedestal in the telecommunication industry. The Commission under his supervision, has actively monitored technical factors to maintain service delivery at a high standard. Also, they have factored in non-technical factors in terms of improving overall service. Operators are subjected to multiple taxations at the level of federal, state, and local government, as well as sometimes even at the global level.

Chief among headaches operators have cried out on is the sabotage of telecommunications infrastructure, denial of the right of way for the deployment of fiber cables, and the issue of power supply. Dnbatta’s commission has practically sat on the neck of members of the National Assembly to fast-track a bill that will make the telecommunications infrastructure a critical infrastructure, the sabotage of which will become a serious national offense.

He was quoted as saying, “We are also urging the government to implement a document on levies, multiple levies, taxation, and other issues. This will grant infrastructure companies unfettered access to sites and locations for the deployment of broadband infrastructure. Looking ahead, if and when they do accept this, and broadband services are deployed, the taxes they will generate from these services will easily warrant the initiative”.

Professor Umar Garba Danvatta became the Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission in 2015. He is a B.Eng and Msc graduate of the Technical University of Wroclaw. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
A member pf the Implementation Committee of the Northwest University, Kano, Prof. Danbatta was also an Ag. Vice-Chancellor of Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil. He is a member of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria and the Nigerian Society of Engineers.
No doubt, renewing his appointment translates to him, renewing his commitment to the nation, the masses and stakeholders of the telecommunication industry. He is expected to further accelerate the growth of the telecoms industry, as the key driver of the country’s digital economy vision over the next five years.

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