The Value Added Services (VAS), segment of the telecom market in Nigeria has recorded the sum of $200 million revenue as at first quarter this year, Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.
Speaking during an interactive session with media executives in Lagos yesterday, Danbatta said the telecom industry has provided both direct and indirect employment opportunities, accentuated growth and expansion of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
According to him, “As a telecom regulator that is well known across the world, we are very conscious of our history and our vision. In subscription number, from the less than 500,000 lines in 2001, we have grown to more than 147 million recorded as at January 2018. Teledensity, weighted in the ITU formula of one line to 100 of population, stands 105.21 percent, while internet penetration has hit the 100 million mark as at January 2018.
“We understand global best practices and standard in telecom regulation. We apply openness and transparency in all our dealings. We have very professional staff, whose performances have sustained the level of recognitions enjoyed by the commission from within and across the globe.”
Danbatta also stressed the need for broadband penetration across the country so as to meet the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) target.
“Let me also mention that the International telecommunication Union (ITU) report credited to Nigeria indicated 22% broadband penetration since 2017. Therefore, the commission is working assiduously to accomplish the 30% national target for 2018 as envisaged in the national broadband plan (NBP 2013-2018).
“We have sustained our commitment toward bridging the broadband divide. Hence, we have intensified effort in the provision of connectivity in secondary and tertiary institutions across the country where we provide support in a programme called Digital Access Programme (DAP) and Digital Appreciation Programme for tertiary institution (ADAPTI).
“We are also supporting the programme of Inter-Campus Connectivity, through the national university commission (NUC) to ensure exchange of ideas and research at that level of education. We are providing support for jamb for it online examination facilities, among similar projects. To maximize the use of spectrum, we have initiated Spectrum Trading.”
Also speaking on the perennial Quality of Service (QoS) challenges in the country, the NCC helmsman said efforts are being made by the Commission to stem the tide of multiple taxation and regulation, as they act as bottlenecks for the operations of the service providers.
“We are currently seeking for a review of the National Economic Councils recommendations on ways that will eliminate multiple taxation and regulations that have created bottlenecks in the provision of services in different states of the federation. Constantly, ICT has huge potentials for the future economic development of the country.
“This is why we are consulting with Governments at various levels, especially with the state governments to key into these huge potentials. This can be done by discouraging some of their officials, agencies and departments that create bottlenecks with multiple regulations and taxation and denial of rights of ways that hinder fast deployment of infrastructure in services.
“We cannot talk about protecting the consumer without talking seriously about the issue of quality of service. We understand the challenges militating against achieving the level of quality of service that every consumer in Nigeria desires and deserves. This is why we are calling the service providers to account. We have acquired relevant tools for measurement of not only the performance in the switch, but also that of consumer experience state-by-state levels.
“We have directed service providers to live up to expectations of their consumers, or the sanctioned, in accordance with the laws guiding the industry, which may include publication of their QoS performances for observation of the members of the public. We are also engaging the service providers regularly with a view to tackling quality of service challenges.”
He, however, said: NCC on March 15, 2017, declared the year as the Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer, and has vigorously created awareness about consumer-tailored solutions, and the result has been impressive. The subscription to Do-Not-Disturb Code, 2442 which enables the subscriber to stop indiscriminate unsolicited text messages in their phones, had little above one million activation by early 2017. But as at today, about nine million subscribers have activated the Do-Not-Disturb Code”.