The Nigerian Communications Commission, in conjunction with the Senate Committee on Communications, held a retreat on Friday November 17, 2017 at Protea Hotel, GRA, Ikeja. The theme of the retreat was “Improving the socio-economic development of the nation, through qualitative telecommunications services”.
In attendance at the retreat, were members of the Senate Committee on Communications, led by Senator Ademola Adeleke, the Vice Chairman of the Committee and other members which include Senator Abiodun Olujimi, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Senator Isah Misau, Senator Gbolahan Dada and Senator Mohammed Shittu.
The retreat kicked off with a welcome address by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who was unavoidably absent and was ably represented by Mr. Inatimi Spiff, Head, Legislative and Government Relations department, NCC. This was followed closely, by a Keynote address by Prof. Umar Cleophas Angaye, former DG, National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA.
In his presentation, Prof Angaye congratulated the Senate Committee on Communications and the NCC for bringing up the timely topic at the retreat. He stated that ICT is a powerful enabler of the economy and enumerated that it can advance economic growth, enhance social inclusion, increase health and education services and governance at any level. He, however, stated that ICT can also introduce new waves of fraud and corruption to occur. “This is why there is the need for the Senate committee on Communications to push for the enactment of proper laws to see that those areas can be properly blocked”, he reiterated.
Some of the recommendations proffered by Prof. Angaye include, strengthening the regulatory instruments in the sector, providing new service offerings, collaborate with other agencies, especially in the field of research and development, enhance the protection of digital content, the use of local content as well as have a robust policy framework for the sector.
Answering questions on why the retreat was organised at this time, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Communication, Senator Ademola Adeleke, stressed that the retreat was timely for the legislators and the regulators to meet and compare notes, in order to move the country forward as regards social development.
Reacting to a question on the intricacies of the Data Floor Pricing in the industry and how we should expect to see it resolved, Senator Abiodun Olujimi stated that, the Data Floor Price, is a regime brought by the NCC to ensure that companies that are providing service, do not go beyond certain prices, to ensure that ordinary consumers have services at reasonable costs to them. She stated that the Senate Committee will meet with the NCC and service providers to find a middle course on the Data Floor Price issue.
Also reacting to a question on the efficiency of the National Communications Act 2003 and whether it now needs to be reviewed, Senator Ademola Adeleke stated that, Communications is all about growth, hence, we need to upgrade and improve upon it.
Senator Abiodun Olujimi also added that, when the Act was first made, it was not envisaged that we will have 21% penetration in broadband as well as 140 million active lines in the country. She also stated that cyber crime is also on the increase on the internet. She gave an example of how she is also affected by cyber crime by saying that she personally has no Facebook account, for instance, but some people are impersonating her as having multiple Facebook accounts. For these reasons, she said, we need to review the National Communications Act 2003, so that the ability of people to commit cyber crime will be curbed and communication will be made better.
The retreat was also attended by NCC staff, a cross section of the industry stakeholders as well as members of the online, print and electronic media.