Telecoms Sector Fetches N33trn For Nigeria-Report

Mohammed Shosanya

The Telecoms sector’s contributions to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) stood at 13.5%, a global organization, GSMA report has revealed.

According to the report,tagged: ‘The role of mobile technology in driving the digital economy in Nigeria’, GSMA also said the telecom sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s overall economic activity is much greater, estimated at 33 trillion NGN in 2023, with 2.4 trillion NGN in tax revenue contributions with 2.4 trillion NGN in tax revenue contributions.

Angela Wamola, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at the GSMA, who stated during a stakeholders meeting in Abuja on Thursday, also advocated collaboration among industry players for the overall growth of the nation’s economy.

She said: “High-speed connectivity is the bedrock of any digital nation, and the Nigerian government recognises the mobile industry’s role in laying key foundations on which digital transformation is built.

“It is estimated that, in 2023, the telecoms sector was contributing 13.5% to the GDP of Nigeria. Considering the direct and indirect contribution of the mobile ecosystem, as well as the productivity impact throughout the economy, the telecom sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s overall economic activity is much greater, estimated at 33 trillion NGN in 2023, with 2.4 trillion NGN in tax revenue contributions.

“High-speed connectivity is the bedrock of any digital nation, and the Nigerian government recognises the mobile industry’s role in laying key foundations on which digital transformation is built. Future policies should be geared towards reducing the cost and complexity of infrastructure rollout to encourage investment and boost the adoption of mobile broadband. The impact of such actions would go far beyond mobile, driving productivity gains across the economy and creating millions of new jobs in Nigeria.”

According to her, the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are committed to investing to support the realisation of the digitalisation ambitions that will unlock economic growth and development in the country.

“Navigating a complex operating environment to unlock these economic opportunities, connectivity and mobile financial services are crucial foundations.

“The GSMA’s report emphasises that while 29% of Nigerians are regularly using mobile internet, there remains untapped potential, as 71% are not accessing these services on a regular basis. An improved policy environment has the potential to help the industry boost coverage and adoption, resulting in 15 million additional internet users by 2028. However, the sector faces challenges to infrastructure deployment.

“Complex and costly process of securing Rights of Way (RoW) significantly increases the time and costs associated with rolling out infrastructure.

“The complex tax environment in Nigeria, providing for high and increasing costs of tax compliance because of the complex and overlapping tax structure within the country.Increasing costs are making it difficult for the industry to maintain sustainable levels of investment.

“The primary driver of this has been increases in the cost of power for sites due to the rapid increases in the price of fuel, increased government fees and levies, and increased demand for forex, in an import-dependent environment, due to contractual obligations for network infrastructure and services that are denominated in USD”.

NCC: Voice,Data Services Affected By Undersea Cable Cuts Restored

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) has disclosed that voice, data services affected by undersea cable cuts have been restored.

Mr.Reuben Muoka, Director, Public Affairs in NCC,who conveyed this in a statement on Monday,said services have now been restored to approximately 90% of their peak utilisation capacities.

He said:”Following the disruption on March 14, 2024, which affected data and voice services due to cuts in undersea fibre optics along the coasts of Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, we are pleased to announce that services have now been restored to approximately 90% of their peak utilization capacities.

“All operators who were impacted by the cuts have taken recovery capacity from submarine cables which were not impacted by the cuts, and have thus recovered approximately 90% of their peak utilisation capacities.

“Mobile Network Operators have assured the Commission that data and voice services would operate optimally pending full repairs of the undersea cables as they have managed to activate alternative connectivities to bring back the situation to normalcy.

“We extend our appreciation to telecom consumers for their patience and understanding during the downtime caused by the undersea fibre cuts.”

NIMC,Partners NCC On NIN-SIM Linkage

Mohammed Shosanya

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have announced a strategic collaboration aimed at enhancing processes related to the National Identification Number (NIN)-SIM linkage.

The agencies conveyed this in statement on Sunday jointly issued by Ayodele Babalola, Technical Adviser, Media, and Communications to the Director General/CEO of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and Reuben Muoka, Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The statement said in recent times, the NIN-SIM linkage exercise has become subject of national discourse, reflecting the critical importance of aligning SIM registrations with individuals’ unique national identification numbers.

The statement added that in view of the significance of this initiative in enhancing security and improving service delivery, both NIMC and NCC are committed to improving processes and enhancing efficiency.

It said:”Under this collaboration, NIMC and NCC will work closely to explore synergies and leverage each other’s expertise and resources in the following key areas:

“Streamlining the NIN-SIM Linkage Process: NIMC and NCC will collaborate to ensure a seamless experience for Nigerian telecommunication subscribers.

“This includes exploring innovative approaches to facilitate the swift verification and authentication of NINs during SIM registration and activation processes.

“Capacity Building and Public Awareness: Both agencies will collaborate on initiatives aimed at enhancing public awareness and understanding of the NIN-SIM linkage requirements.

“This includes educational campaigns, training sessions for stakeholders, and the dissemination of accurate information to the public to encourage compliance with the linkage directives.

“Data Verification and Validation: NIMC will continue to extend its support to NCC by providing assistance in verifying National Identification Numbers (NINs) associated with SIM registrations. Leveraging NIMC’s robust database and authentication infrastructure, telecommunication operators will validate submitted NINs while ensuring the accuracy and integrity of subscriber data.

“Policy Harmonisation and Regulatory Framework: NIMC and NCC will collaborate on aligning policies and regulatory frameworks to facilitate the seamless integration of NIN-SIM linkage processes within the telecommunications ecosystem.

“This includes harmonising data protection and privacy regulations to safeguard the confidentiality and security of subscriber information.”

The statement assured that both NIMC and NCC are committed to fostering a collaborative and transparent partnership that prioritises the interests of Nigerian citizens and promotes national development, adding that “by pooling our resources and expertise, we aim to overcome the challenges associated with the NIN-SIM linkage exercise and ensure its continued successful implementation.”

Glo-MTN Settle Interconnect Debt Dispute

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced that the interconnect debt dispute between MTN Nigeria Communications Plc. (MTN) and Globacom Limited (Globacom) has been amicably settled.

A statement on Thursday signed by Mr.Reuben Muoka, Director, Public Affairs in NCC, explained that in accordance with this resolution, the disconnection approval granted to MTN for the disconnection of Globacom has now been withdrawn.

Muoka said: “Following its initial Public Notice, the Commission with the aim of mitigating any potential disruptions to subscribers undertook further regulatory intervention, by mediating between the parties and facilitating the reconciliation process.

“The Commission reiterates that strict adherence to the terms and conditions of licenses, particularly those delineated in interconnection agreements, is imperative for all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other licensees within the telecommunications industry.

“In order to proactively address and prevent future instances of interconnect indebtedness within the industry, the Commission will be requesting relevant records and regular updates from MNOs, as well as adopting a transparent approach towards industry indebtedness.

“This statement serves as a reminder of the Commission’s commitment to fostering a stable and compliant telecommunications ecosystem in Nigeria.”

Reduce Telecom Taxes,NCC Begs States

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC),has appealed to States and Local Government Areas in Nigeria to reduce taxes imposed on telecom companies to enhance their growth as well as attract foreign investors into the country.

Dr. Aminu Maida, Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),who stated this at a media parley in Abuja,disclosed that already between 50 to 55 per cent taxes are imposed on telecoms operators.

He maintained that it would be difficult to attract foreign investments into the sector in line with President Bola Tinubu’s directive to the Commission.

He said: “We are going to be going on an advocacy campaign to see how we can convince the states to remove some of these obstacles like Right of Way and multiple taxations because I have seen some studies which indicate taxation is almost 50% getting to 55% in some areas in this country.

“And you would agree with me that if we are trying to bring in foreign investment that is not a good picture to paint.”

He appealed to states to re-consider the long-term benefits that would come to them, if they allowed massive investments in the sector as job opportunities would be created alongside other value chains in the sector

He assured that the Commission would collaborate with stakeholders to tackle these challenges for the overall development of the telecommunications sector.

Unveiling his new strategies to reposition the telecoms industry, the NCC boss said consumer satisfaction would be at the core of his strategy, as he would put smiles on the faces of consumers.

Maida, who listed the strategies he would deploy to address various issues affecting the telecoms sector, said “my vision is to put smiles on the faces of telecoms consumers in Nigeria by improving the quality of services being offered them by service providers as well as increase investments in the sector.

“Consumers pay for their services and they expect high quality of service from the providers.Everything for me starts with the Consumers. The expectation of the consumers is very simple, which is, high quality of service.

“By this quality of service, we are talking about whole quality of experience for consumers.One of the mandates given to us by the honorable Minister of Communication which he also derived from the President and Commander -in- Chief is that we need to attract more foreign investments into the sector but there is no way we can do that if we are not satisfying the consumers because the consumers are the ones who pay for the services.

“This means the licensees can make their returns and investments, so we are going to be introducing some measures to help in this regard simply to improve the Ease of Doing Business.”

Digital Economy Grows Nigeria’s GDP By 20 Percent-Minister 

      Mohammed Shosanya
Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijjani on Thursday said that digital economy contributed 20 percent to the Nigeria Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Tijjani Bosun,who spoke in Kano at the end of a 5 days National Council on Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy,explained that this was made possible by the youths population who are digitally native.
He revealed that “Nigeria is extremely blessed, 60 percent of her population are youths under the age of 25 that are digitally native.”
Bosun noted that Nigeria digital economy is the best in Africa, adding that the strength, and dominant of the youth in the sector made the nation an investment hub in Africa.
He stressed “Computerisation change the world, it takes the burden off the human, and as well empower people to farm in the way we’ve not seen before simply through education.”
He advocated  the need to strengthen the backbone of our economy through technology to achieve  predetermined goals.
The Minister said “We need to build the workforce, and this has made it incumbent on Nigeria to invest on fibal optic networks to boost internet penetration”
NCC Suspends Glo’s Disconnection From MTN  For Three Weeks

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Communications Commission has suspended its planned barring of Glo subscribers from calling MTN lines for 21 days.

A statement on Thursday signed by Mr.Reuben Mouka, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, said the Commission is pleased to announce that the parties have now reached agreement to resolve all outstanding issues between them.

“For this reason, and in exercise of its regulatory powers in that regard, the Commission has put the phased disconnection on hold for a period of 21 (twenty-one) days from today, 17 January, 2024.

“Whilst the Commission expects MTN and Glo to resolve all outstanding issues within the 21-day period, the Commission insists that interconnect debts must be settled by all operating companies as a necessary component towards compliance with regulatory obligations of all licensees.

“It is obligatory that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other licensees in the telecom industry keep to the terms and conditions of their licenses, especially as contained in their interconnection agreements.”

Recall that on January 8, 2024 the Nigerian Communications Commission published a Pre-Disconnection Notice informing subscribers of the approval granted to MTN Nigerian Communications Plc. (MTN) to commence the phased disconnection of Globacom Limited (Glo) with effect from January 18, 2024 due to long-standing interconnection debt dispute between the parties.

FCCPC Boss Implores Nigerian Youths To Embrace Digital Technology

Mohammed Shosanya

Mr. Babatunde Irukera, Executive Vice Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission(FCCPC), has implored Nigerian youths to embrace digital technology to catch up with the rest of the world.

He spoke on Wednesday at the 7th Edition of the National Young Consumer Contest Awards 2023 organised by FCCPC in Abuja.

He added that digital technology defines their future and attainment in life.

He further tasked the youths to have good character, values, integrity, discipline and responsibility to succeed in life.

He said: “The future belongs to the young people. Africa is the fastest growing continent in the world from the population stand point.Digital markets are the future that will dominate Africa. Digital finance is important to the young people to direct their future.

“One of the most important things that will define your success in life is character.Inside character, you have integrity and values.

“When you put character, integrity and values apart, the next thing that will define your future and success is responsibility.

“The biggest responsibility that will define whether you have succeeded is fiscal responsibility.

“Learning restraint and discipline and respect to resources. Fiscal responsibility is a factor in controlling corruption.

“So if the future is digital, and fiscal responsibility is an important part of your success, making you to think digital markets is appropriate.”

He explained that Nigeria has become a hub for digital companies, adding that six technology companies with a market capitalisation of $1billion, have birthed in Nigeria in the last eight years.

He tasked Nigerian youths to be focused and intentional in embracing digital technology, adding that “the way to the future is digital technology.”

According to him, “Nigeria is a country of talents and a country that leads even in the digital space.

“In the space of 8 years, Nigeria has six unicorns or technology companies that have a market capitalisation of $1billion.It is much more here than anywhere in the continent. Nigeria is a respected as a country for technology start-ups in Africa

“We must be intentional and the young people must focus on this. We cannot catch up with the rest of the world by building new schools.The way to the future is digital technology.”

Why Nigeria’s Internet Growth Drags-Report

Mohammed Shosanya

An Internet Society report saysNigeria’s Internet penetration is lagging, with only 36% of its 213 million citizens using the Internet, ranking it 18th in Africa. To increase this percentage and reap the benefits of the Internet, including a highly connected economy,

Nigeria must address market-related challenges in order to increase this percentage and reap the benefits of the Internet, including a highly connected economy,the report said

According to the report,the number of companies that provide local access to the Internet, known as Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and companies that connect an ISP to the global Internet, known as Internet transit providers, servicing Nigeria is well below average compared to global standards.

The Internet Society’s Distinguished Technologist, Michuki Mwangi,said the observation points to local barriers that make it difficult to provide resilient and affordable Internet connectivity.

He added:“Nigeria can improve the resilience and usage of its Internet by reviewing its telecommunications-related policies, regulations, and other factors that discourage service providers from investing in the Internet infrastructure that will facilitate better connectivity,”

“Our Pulse Internet Resilience Index highlights that more efforts are needed to improve the infrastructure, performance, security, and market readiness.Improving these areas can have flow-on effects such as decreasing interconnectivity costs, improving performance, and increasing affordability”

Mwangi also notes that the country needs to increase its use of IPv6 to accommodate the future growth of the Internet—something that many populous countries are doing as more of their population starts to use the Internet.

According to the Pulse Country Report, Nigeria’s 1% IPv6 adoption rate ranks 18th in Africa and is the lowest among the top 10 most populous countries worldwide.

IPv6 is the next-generation Internet Protocol (IP) standard intended to replace IPv4, the protocol many Internet services still use today. IPv6 is a well-established protocol that is seeing increased deployment and adoption, particularly in mobile phone markets, as it enables networks to connect more devices and expand their networks without relying on additional resources. Mobile devices generate more than 84% of Internet traffic in Nigeria.

The Internet Society Pulse Country Report highlights governments, technology stakeholders, and industry players need to work together to prioritize competition and open the market to increase Internet resilience.

NITDA,CBN To Drive Regulation On Digital Payment

   Mohammed Shosanya
The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, has restated the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Financial Institutions in the country to partner with the agency in order to leverage emerging technologies such as Artificial intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics to deepen digital payments.
He spoke during a panel discussion segment at the Central Bank of Nigeria’s 2023 Payments System Management Departmental Retreat programme.
 The Director General,who was represented at the event by the National Director, National Centre for Artificial intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), Engr Ya’u Garba, alluded to the fact that financial technology (FinTech) has so far shown immense ability in driving Nigeria’s performance in the industry and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), especially with the application of developmental regulation approach and enabling policies co-created by the tech ecosystem.
He said,deepening collaborations with key stakeholders will fast track the realisation of the goal, adding that upping the game in digital payments will not only continue to put Nigeria at the forefront as Fintech driven economy but will also enhance consumers’ user experience and help move many people out of poverty.
 Responding to questions regarding Nigeria’s efforts toward dealing with the opportunities and threats posed by Artificial intelligence, Inuwa explained that the Federal Government had noticed that the trajectory of AI models which have moved from linearly to geometrical in proportions had in the previous administration, started working on Artificial intelligence Policy through the Agency which he said would be soon unveiled to the public.
“This AI Policy will form the basis on which all the rules will be highlighted and Agencies like  NITDA, which is the implementation arm will be talking about the strategies, framework and guidelines to navigate through its adoption and deployment.
“Although artificial intelligence is often regarded as a double edged sword, the potential and benefits are tangible but not without a lot of threats, and that is apart from the biases that abound, notwithstanding, our regulatory approach has always been not to stifle innovation.”, Inuwa noted.
Inuwa,who also mentioned other policies of the Federal Government for the industry, maintained that the policies are start-up ecosystem- friendly.
While avowing that there is the need for measures to be deliberately taken to reap the benefits and forestall the impending threats of AI, Inuwa emphasised that NITDA will be working collaboratively with CBN as with others,  in regulating the AI space, stressing that if CBN adopts a particular technology, the potential of such technology to move quickly is high.
The NITDA boss told the audience that the Start-up Bill which was passed by the National Assembly and assented to by former President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2022 will address almost, if not all the bottlenecks plaguing the tech ecosystem.
The Fintech industry, according to Inuwa, is blazing the trail, but said there are a lot more to be tapped from, if AI is explored and exploited accordingly.
He stressed that government needs to work with the United Nations, World Bank and others to see how they can help build the infrastructure for FinTech, in order to foster digital payments and possibly close the digital gap.
“The Startup Act is deemed to be a positive step forward for the country’s startup ecosystem, and it is expected to have a significant impact on businesses in the technology and innovation space”.
“We have other policies tailored towards the bigger picture, like the 3MTT programme by the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy which is expected to generate a pipeline of technical talent in line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s vision of creating two million digital jobs by 2025, National Broadband Plan, Digital Identity Policy and the National Financial Policy which drive the financial inclusion in the country,” Inuwa affirmed.
Welcoming guests, the Director, Payments System Management Department, CBN, Musa Jimoh, harped on the need to look into the future and embrace things that are contemporary to Nigeria and the world at large and ensure that all the thinking behind Payments system should be hinged on how it can benefit the common man on the street.
“Everything we do in Central Bank of Nigeria, if it cannot benefit the common man on the street, then we have done nothing because the payments system is not for us but for the public good, especially as everybody uses it.
“As such, our thinking should always be what can we do to ease the pain, reduce cost, serve and make things more efficient and available to the common man on the street and indeed to all Nigerians, whether in the country or in the Diaspora”, Musa said.