By Clifford Agugoesi, Editor-in-Chief
: The reappointment of the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer(EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Professor Umar Garba Danbatta by Nigerian Leader Muhammadu Buhari and his confirmation by the 9th Senate will add an uncommon impetus to the digital economy aspirations of the country, according to the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo.
Engr. Spoke recently via Zoom on NTA Good Morning Nigeria(NTAGMN) a popular current affairs programme on Africa’s largest TV network. Adebayo appeared on the programme along with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami and the Vice President of the Nigeria Internet Group(NIG) and member, Presidential Committee on Data Harmonization, Dr. Bayero Agabi.
Asked to give an overview of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), the critical place of the telecommunications sector and whether he thought the Policy could lead Nigeria to the digital economy promise land, Adebayo said: “The Policy as set out is quite a brilliant document and also very ambitious. As stakeholders, we are participating in the implementation of the policy and we must thank the Honourable Minister for not only driving this policy as it is, but also for ensuring that the work is being done.
“The Minister has succeeded after several previous Ministers have made many efforts in reducing the cost of Right of Way(RoW). For the very first time in the history of the industry, we now have states providing right of way free of charge . Before now, RoW used to cost as much as 70 per cent of the cost of deploying infrastructure… Bandwidth used to cost more in Lagos than the cost of bandwidth in London traceable in part to the high cost from the state governments, due to excessive cost of the RoW by states but that is now becoming a story of the past due to the policy of government on digital economy and also the intervention of the Honourable Minister for which we thank him.
“We have also had problems over the years on the issue of vandalisation of telecoms infrastructure which, to a large extent, has led to issues of poor quality of services. But very recently, again, through the intervention of the Minister, for which we thank him and Mr. President, telecommunications has now been declared as Critical National Economic, Security and Economic Infrastructure. Now we are enjoying the first level of protection by government. This again, will enhance this policy, this again will enhance the implementation of this policy. We do believe that with all these things in place, it is actually the right time to look at the future of the digital economy of Nigeria.
“Also now, we have consistency in the leadership of our regulatory agency. The NCC now has consistency in the leadership and we do believe that the policy of the government at the level of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, being the supervising ministry, and, also, the agenda of the NCC, we believe it will enhance again, this policy of government and we believe that we are on the right course and we are on the right part.”
Dr. Pantami had earlier underscored the critical place of the telecommunications sector to the realization of the NDEPS saying digital economy was the way forward globally, while Dr. Agabi stated that Nigeria was well positioned to take off on her digital economy journey considering facts on ground.