The Nigerian senate has confirmed the reappointment of Professor Umar Danbatta as the executive vice-chairman of the country’s top communications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
This comes a month after his reappointment by President Muhammadu Buhari, through the ministry of communication and the digital economy.
The professor was confirmed after the senator representing Ekiti Central senatorial district, Opeyemi Bamidele moved that the senate considers a report by the committee on communications presented by Senator Oluremi Tinubu.
The Senate approved Umar Danbatta’s reappointment for another term of 5 years after careful consideration of the report.
Another 5 years in charge
Professor Danbatta would be piloting the affairs of Nigeria’s top communications watchdog for another five years following the successful completion of his initial tenure. In June, the President, acting on the recommendations of the minister of communication and digital economy, Dr Isa Pantami, reappointed Prof Danbatta as the NCC boss.
According to the NCC, Danbatta was reappointed to consolidate the recent gains made in the nation’s telecom sector. Some of these gains include increasing Nigeria’s broadband penetration from just 10% in 2015 when he was first appointed to the current 39.9%. Internet subscription also rose to more than 76 million.
The NCC under Danbatta also gave MTN a temporary license to perform the first 5G demo in the country. It also implemented the Do-not-disturb rule to put an end to spam messages from telecom providers
Moving NCC forward
In the next five years, Prof Danbatta would be looking to consolidate some of the gains of the last five years. In February, the NCC announced a new national broadband plan which targets 70% broadband penetration in the country as well as 90% 4G coverage by 2025.
With MTN already drawing up a 5G master plan for its major African markets, the matter of 5G is also expected to heat up sometime within the next five years. With conspiracy theories already taking root among the highly religious populace, the NCC should gear up for wide-scale re-orientation to facilitate the acceptance of the technology.
Another matter that would require urgent and constant attention is the Right of Way (RoW) charges. While a few states have either crashed theirs to the approved N1 per metre or totally waved the fee, many others are still holding out to their exorbitant charges. RoW is very critical to broadband penetration.
Other challenges facing Prof Umar Danbatta’s NCC in the next five years include driving financial inclusion through telecom operators and improving the quality of internet service in the country which is one of the worst in Africa, ranking 118th in the world for mobile speeds.
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