NCC prepares for 5G connectivity, others to boost Nigeria’s digital economy
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NCC prepares for 5G connectivity, others to boost Nigeria’s digital economy

- Nigeria is preparing for 5G connectivity and other reforms expected to boost the country's digital economy

- Representatives of mobile network operators, GSMA, is leading the charge through reforms expected to unlock economic growth, jobs and opportunities for social development

- It also has the potential to get 55% of the country's population connected by 2025

Modernising regulation and policy reform will be crucial to boosting Nigeria’s digital economy and accelerating internet access for millions through increased mobile broadband penetration, according to a new report released by the GSMA.

The report titled: “Spotlight on Nigeria: Delivering a Digital Future,” was launched at a GSMA industry event on Thursday, November 29 in Abuja, in conjunction with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The event brought together leaders from across the mobile industry with policymakers to discuss future regulation and how to enable the next-generation of 5G connectivity.

“In the world we live in today, mobile communication is a cardinal tool of economic development, growth and integration, and the mobile industry is a key enabler of productivity across economies and societies,” said Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, the executive vice chairman and chief executive officer, NCC.

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“The mobile industry is not only a significant contributor to the economic activities of Nigeria, but also towards the growth of other sectors of the economy.

“The Nigerian Communications Commission has been, and continues to play a key role in the development of mobile communication in Nigeria, and I am delighted to be part of this event today. This provides and avenue for regulators, operators, investors, and other relevant stakeholders to examine, share and constructively exchange ideas.

“Mobile connectivity has already improved the welfare of millions of Nigerians, opening the door to new digital possibilities and powering the country’s economic development,” said Akinwale Goodluck, head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA.

“For Nigeria to take full advantage of the next phase of its digital transformation, it’s vital that collaboration between industry and government enables the right policy environment for millions more to benefit from ultra-fast mobile broadband.

“If policies don’t keep pace with the needs of society and technological innovation, there is a risk that citizens will be left behind and productivity and competitiveness will suffer,” he added.

GSMA research shows that the mobile market in Nigeria makes an important contribution to the economy. The mobile industry contributed $21 billion to GDP in 2017, representing 5.5 per cent of Nigeria’s total GDP. In addition, the growth of Nigeria’s digital economy resulted in the creation of nearly 500,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Growth in the adoption of digital services by government, businesses and consumers is having a positive impact on daily life in Nigeria. For the majority of Nigerians, mobile broadband is the first and only technology for accessing the internet, enabling better access to health, education and commercial opportunities, amongst other public services.

Smartphone adoption has already risen to over 53 million connections, and 49 per cent of the population are currently connected by mobile technology, compared to less than one per cent who have a fixed-line connection.

However, the report concludes that there is still broad scope for Nigeria to increase its mobile penet*ation. Although more Nigerians are getting access to mobile broadband, the country lags regional peers in 4G adoption. Helping to accelerate adoption would enable more advanced services and create bigger societal impacts.

With increased spectrum harmonisation and licensing reform, the country’s mobile penetr*tion is forecast to rise to 55 per cent of the population by 2025, with 70 per cent having 3G connectivity and 17 per cent having access to 4G networks. Currently, only 44 per cent of mobile subscribers in Nigeria are using 3G technology and 4 per cent are using 4G technology, compared to over 18 per cent 4G penetra*ion in South Africa and 16 per cent in Angola.

Building on the progress already achieved by the NCC, the GSMA recommends the following reforms in its report:

1. Retire the Digital Mobile Licence, the National Carrier Licence and the International Gateway Licence;

2. Eliminate superseded conditions in the Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) and migrate many others towards a supplementary general UASL conditions document or to parallel regulations;

3. Transition to an indefinite duration for the UASL;

4. Guarantee a true unified approach to licensing, permitting licensees to offer the full range of services, as per the UASL scope of services provision; and

5. Provide coverage obligations via radio frequency licences.

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Meanwhile, the NCC on Tuesday, November 20, said about 12 million telecommunications subscribers have asked service providers to stop disturbing them with unsolicited text messages and calls.

Professor Danbatta made this disclosure in his meeting with Kano actors and filmmakers (popularly known as Kannywood) in the state.

Danbatta urged the artists and filmmakers to spread the message of consumer protection tools of the commission such as 2442 Do-not-Disturb short code and 622 toll free line.

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