NCC, GSMA open talks on ways to grow mobile networks

By The Citizen

The Global System of Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), the umbrella body for all Mobile operators, Equipment manufacturers, vendors, among others, recently opened talks with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on capacity building, and other sundry ways to attain an accelerated growth in the mobile sector.

The talks which took place at the Corporate Headquarters of NCC in Abuja were led by Mr. Mortimer Hope, director, Africa Region for GSMA.

They were received by Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman (EVC/CEO) of NCC.

Mortimer who said their visit was of dual purposes, told the EVC and his management that besides introducing his team to the NCC, they came to discuss with the regulator on capacity building which GSMA members have great expertise.

'We are available always for capacity building that will boost mobile connectivity, improve data transmission, mobile money by breaking all the barriers inhibiting growth'.

Mortimer said Nigeria is a very important market hence the need for the report, Digital Inclusion and the role of Mobile in Nigeria, which he submitted to the EVC.

The report was inspired by GSMA's Digital Inclusion programme which supports the connection of an additional two billion people to the mobile internet by 2020.

The programme focuses on working with mobile operators, development organisations and governments to address the barriers to mobile internet adoption through network infrastructure and policy, affordability and tax, digital literacy and local content.

The GSMA team however said that knotty issues like multiple taxation, Quality of Service, Right of Way, among others are still a drawback to the expected growth of the sector.

They also bemoaned lack of spectrum for the mobile companies to effectively reach those underserved and unserved areas of Nigeria.

In his response, Danbatta told the visiting GSMA team that the regulator is already abreast with mobile inclusion and all of these are captured in the five year strategic plan of the Commission 2015-2020 enshrined in the 8-point agenda 'which we unveiled recently and this is in line with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) strategy to increase mobile penetration through broadband'.

The EVC also told the visitors that Nigeria is aware of the massive ICT divide and 'we are striving to bridge this through the National Broadband Plan (2015 - 2018) where penetration is likely to hit 30 percent from its current level of 10 percent'.

This strategy includes but not limited to improvement of Quality of Service (QoS), through massive deployment of broadband infrastructure especially in major cities to boost connectivity.

Danbatta said to achieve milestones, 'we must begin now, hence we appreciate this relationship with GSMA'.

On the issue of Right of way, Multiple taxation, Danbatta told the visitors that 'we have opened talks with the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and we are very positive of the results'.

On Spectrum, he said, 'it is a scarce commodity but we are working out ways on how available Spectrum is properly utilized'.

'Poor quality of service has to do with technical and non-technical issues like vandalism of infrastructure and these are being addressed' Danbatta added. – NigeriaCommunicationsWeek.