The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has called for sustainable financing and fair taxation practices to support the continued growth of the telecommunications sector.
Speaking at the “NCC Day” event at the 18th Abuja International Trade Fair on October 5, 2023, NCC Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, said that the telecommunications sector has been a strategic driver of the digital economy agenda of the Federal Government.
He noted that the sector has continued to provide the needed digital stamina to support the economy, especially through technology.
Danbatta said that telecommunications empowers individuals, connects businesses, strengthens industries and enables Governments to provide essential services efficiently thereby driving development and prosperity.
He said that Information Communications Technology (ICT) is not only one of the fastest growing industries – directly creating millions of jobs – but it is also an important enabler of innovation and development, as it provides the backbone infrastructure for transactional business and taxation for Government.
However, he said that maintaining this digital infrastructure and its continued growth necessitates substantial investment.
Danbatta said that sustainable financing in telecommunication involves sourcing the necessary capital to build and maintain robust telecommunications networks.
He said that as regulators, the NCC understands that this financing should be stable, accessible and conducive for industry growth.
He said that taxation while essential for funding of Government initiatives must strike a delicate balance between revenue generation and industry growth.
Danbatta said that the NCC’s role as regulator is to advocate for fair taxation practices that do not stifle innovation or place undue burden on consumers.
He said that the NCC acknowledges the intricacies of tax policies but emphasizes the importance of creating an environment where telecommunications companies can thrive.
He said that to address these challenges, the NCC continuously engages both the Federal and State Government on the need to harmonize taxation in the telecommunications sector.
Danbatta said that the NCC’s regulatory efforts in deepening access to digital services will benefit Nigeria and make it competitive comparable with other economies in the areas of job creation; contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth; emergence of new services and industries; workforce transformation; and business innovation.
He said that it is in response to ensuring that Nigeria is competitive in all these areas that the NCC continuously puts a number of regulatory measures in place to ensure seamless access by Nigerians to telecommunications services in order to deepen competitiveness of the Nigerian economy by making our businesses and industries digitally compliant.
Danbatta said that in Nigeria today, the number of active mobile subscriptions reached 220,715,961 million as at August 2023, while Teledensity stood at 115.63 per cent at the same period.
He said that also, the number of active Internet subscribers was 159,034,717 Million with broadband penetration at 45.57 per cent as at August, 2023.
He said that in this new environment, the competitiveness of Nigerian businesses depends on their ability to leverage on new technologies by acquiring the necessary digital skills to do business on an international scale. This in turn benefits the economy financially.
Danbatta said that the steady growth of telecoms sector over the years with its pervasive positive impact on all other sectors of the economy in terms of increased automation of processes and digital transformation in service delivery, has been remarkable.
He said that this, however, would not have been possible without telecoms consumers who are using the services daily.
To sustain this, therefore, the NCC continues to create a conducive environment that stimulates deployment of robust telecoms/broadband infrastructure for improving the quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) for telecoms consumers, be it individuals or corporates.
He said that this is because, as a country, we need robust telecoms infrastructure that will help our industries transit to becoming Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-driven if we hope to be digitally competitive on the global stage.
Danbatta said that the NCC is working assiduously with various stakeholders including consumers, to see how more businesses can embrace digital platforms for delivering their services to the consumer.
He said that as a regulator, the NCC also ensures it constantly informs consumers on how to be protected to prevent cases of online fraud or avoid consumer falling victims of cybercrime antics while in their legitimate use of the Internet.
Danbatta said that as Nigerians may be aware, the NCC is driving initiatives for the full deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) network in Nigeria.
He said that already, 5G spectrum licenses have been issued to companies for rollout.
He said that it is important to state that the 5G network will bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities to communications services in Nigeria.