Commits To Deepening Operator-Regulator Relations
By Kingsley I. Ilechukwu, Senior Correspondent Lagos
As part of the novel initiative to strengthen and deepen regulatory engagements and relations with operators, a delegation of top management of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has visited the headquarters of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to inspect their technical infrastructure and other facilities.
As contained in a statement inked by the Director of Public Affairs(DPA) at NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, earlier sighted by Cyber Era NG, the delegation led by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management (ECSM) at NCC, Adeleke Adewolu, was in Lagos, south west of the country, for a weeklong exercise essentially to get first-hand information about MNOs’ operations as well as verify challenges the MNOs may be dealing with in order to make recommendations to appropriate stakeholders towards addressing the challenges.
The inspection, the first of its kind in the history of the Commission and an initiative of the Office of the ECSM of NCC, was part of the Commission’s efforts to ensure operational efficiency and improvement in the regulatory framework in achieving the objectives of the national digital economy and other policy initiatives of the Federal Government.
Places visited during the regulatory inspection included Airtel, 9Mobile, Globacom, MTN and Spectranet, where the NCC delegation engaged managements of the telecom companies in robust discussions to gain insights into their operational issues. The delegation equally visited the operators’ data centre facilities, assessed their compliance with the NIN-SIM linkage exercise at their customer care centres, and also inspected the landing stations of international submarine cables.
During the visits, the NCC delegation was received warmly and guided on the tour of the facilities by Airtel’s Chief Commercial Officer, Godfrey Efeurhobo; 9Mobile’s Chief Executive Officer, Juergen Peschel, Globacom’s Head of Regulatory Services, Michael Toluhi; MTN’s Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola; and Spectranet’s Chief Executive Officer, Ajai Avasthi , respectively.
The operators commended the Commission for ensuring effective telecom regulatory regime towards addressing challenges confronting their operations. The operators also beseeched the NCC delegation to continue to develop initiatives aimed at reducing the impact of their major operational challenges on the service delivery and their revenues.
They listed areas where increased and more decisive interventions are needed from the Commission to include the issues of willful and inadvertent fibre cuts; theft of telecoms equipment; non-availability and inadequacy of, as well as unstable power supply; multiple taxation and regulations across all the three tiers of government; damages caused undersea cables by marine transportation systems; scarcity and difficulty in accessing Foreign Exchange (FOREX); as well as insecurity which has impeded network rollout, especially in some parts of the country.
Commenting at each juncture during the visit, the NCC’s ECSM, Adewolu, commended the operators for their cooperation on the implementation of NIN-SIM integration directive. Adewolu stated that the telecoms sector had played a significant role in ensuring the delivery of the mandate of the National identity Management Commission (NIMC) through collaboration facilitated by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
Adewolu, particularly implored the operators to ensure compliance with all regulatory guidelines, directives and to ensure prompt and efficient delivery on their licensing conditions as good corporate citizens. He promised that NCC would continue to take proactive measures that would improve their operations and equally forge necessary collaborations to ensure sustainability of the sector and its contribution to the growth of nation’s economy.
He stated that the tour of operators’ facilities was in line with NCC’s effort to ensure effective stakeholders interface necessary for the achievement of the objectives detailed in the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024 and the Strategic Vision (Implementation) Plan (SVIP) 2021-2025.
“The main purpose of this inspection tour of MNOs’ head offices and key facilities is to measure impact of regulatory efforts and operational effectiveness of the initiatives in the telecom ecosystem. The tour is also to assist in deepening understanding of the issues that are negatively affecting the ability of licensees to operate optimally; and it certainly offered opportunity for interacting and networking with executive management of MNOs in order to enhance operator-regulatory purposeful interface,” Adewolu said.
By the reckoning of all participants, the visit and tours constitute a groundwork for continuing and prompt issues-resolution on a day-to-day basis, and with a clear promise for knowledge update on infrastructure situation and business cases among senior personnel of the Commission toward a more effective regulation.