•Sets priorities for second term
•To connect over 15 million unconnected Nigerians
•Targets 70% broadband penetration by 2025
By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor
The first five years of Prof Umar Danbatta as the chief umpire of the Telecom sector, has come under scrutiny. However, if his account for those years is anything to go by, it appears his stewardship benefitted the sector in an unprecedented way.
Danbatta was appointed the Executive Vice Chairman, EVC in August 2015 on a five year tenure that expired at the same time in 2020.
Although his appointment was recently renewed for another five years, a group of top media professionals took the EVC to task, asking the key milestones of his first five years and why he believes the second will be good for Nigeria.
Fielding the questions, Danbatta presented figures which pointed to consistent double digits growth and improvement in the sector, since he assumed office.
Danbatta stoutly claimed that diligent implementation of the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP), which focused on the 8-Point Agenda, he created at resumption of duty, helped to lift broadband penetration from 6 percent in 2015 to 42.02 percent by July 2020.
He also claimed that the clear visions of growth he brought increased the sector’s contribution to GDP from 8.50 percent in 2015 to 14.30 percent in the second quarter of 2020.
For him, it is only visionary leadership that would have led the industry contribute up to N2.272 trillion to the economy in Q2 2020.
He noted that when he came on board five years ago, 217 access gap clusters were identified in the country denying over 40 million Nigerians access to telecoms services, but claimed that today, his administration has reduced the access gap clusters to 114, connecting 25 million out of the 40 million digitally excluded Nigerians to telecoms and digital services.
Similarly, Danbatta said on assumption of office, there were 47,000 kilometers of fibre optic cables laid across the country. However, five years after, as a result of regulatory focus and the arming of some private companies with enabling environment, there are now 54,725 kilometers of fibre cables laid across the country.
He also reeled out NCC’s regulatory priority areas for the next five years to include facilitating the attainment of 70 percent broadband penetration by 2025; consumer protection and empowerment; and consolidation of spectrum trading to ensure maximum and efficient usage of available frequencies.
Other areas of focus, according to him, will include continuous SIM registration audit to provide security and curtail incidences of banditry, kidnapping, and armed robbery; creation of Emergency Communications Centres, ECC, in more states of the federation; and execution of the counterpart funding agreements with the licensed Infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to facilitate the digital transformation of the economy.
He also committed to digitally connecting the remaining Nigerians who have been shut out of the digital world because their areas have no business attraction.
He said: “We are committed to addressing the remaining access gap clusters, which are areas outside the frontier of economic viability to ensure the remaining millions of Nigerians have digital access.
“In line with the Federal Government’s target, an additional 120,000 kilometers of fibre are being planned over the next four years. In this regard, the NCC is working on last-mile connectivity to different parts of the country through leveraging the 40 terabyte capacity of five submarine cables on the coastal shores of Nigeria,” he added.