Professor Umaru Dambata, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC)
By Raphael Ekpang
The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umaru Dambata has assured Nigerians that the commission was poised to deploy digital broadband communication technology to all the 774 local governments in the country to enhance the quality of telecommunication services.
Dambata made the disclosure on Tuesday at the National Assembly when he led the management of the NCC to the budget defense of the Commission’s 2020 budget organized by the joint Committees of Communication of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
During his presentation, Prof. Dambata disclosed that the commission had developed a strategic fibre optic deployment map that will cover all the geopolitical zones in the country for the smooth operations of the telecom operators to enhance quality of service across board.
According to him, “We are planning to deploy fibre optic cables in all the geopolitical zones in the country, including Lagos. Lagos has been designated as a zone on its own because of the commercial and strategic importance of Lagos. So Lagos has been made the 7th zone according to the categorization of infrastructure development for the country.
“We are making a request through the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy for a consideration for this deployment because it is going to entail a counterpart funding. The project is a Public Private Partnership Project (PPP). Therefore, the commission is poised to seek counterpart funding.
AT THE BUDGET DEFENCE ON TUESDAY AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
“The important thing about this project is that there will be a point of access in every local government area in the country, So all the 774 local governments will have a point of broadband access of 10Gigabite per second capacity.
The EVC of the NCC while speaking on the quality of services of the telecommunication operators in Nigeria assured the committee that the NCC was alive to its duties in monitoring the service output of the operators to ensure that Nigerians were not shortchanged by the operators.
According to Prof. Dambata the NCC has an established “key performance indicators” that is the threshold of the service delivery of the service providers and that the commission ensures that the performance indicators were strictly adhered to by the operators.
“On the Quality of service, we monitor this mostly; we have information about the quality of service in virtually all parts of the Country, all the states and in all the local governments. And we have key performance indicators; we are able to measure the quality of service that is provided by the telecom operators. Where we find the quality of service poor and below the standard stipulated the key performance indicators , we normally insist that measures must be taken to improve the quality of service and we do this every month,” the EVC said.
On the teething problems the commission and the telecom sector is encountering, the NCC boss listed the “right of way” and “multiple taxation” as the major challenges militating against the deployment of telecom infrastructure in Nigeria that impact negative on the quality of service delivery by the operators. He, therefore, sought the support and assistance of the National Assembly as the representatives of all Nigerians in solving the problem.
“Right of way is a challenge, right of has conspired to deny the deployment of communication infrastructure and indeed other types on infrastructure in the country. And there is no indication that states and local governments are complying with the rate of N145 per linear metre of fibre cable. This is a stipulation in the National Economic Council Report (2013- 2018).
“We will need the support of the National Assembly to ensure that we harmonise the rate of N145 per linear metre of fibre cable is respected and adhered to by all states and local government in the country. This will greatly assist us in our quest to deploy more and more infrastructure.
“Multiple taxation across various agencies of the government equally conspires to decrease and prohibit the efforts we are making to deplore more infrastructure.
“Therefore, what we have in place at the moment is cooperation between virtually all relevant agencies of the government that have a say in the way and manner infrastructure is deployed in the country, so that we can, through this collaboration find a common meeting point on how best to ensure that we harmonise taxation across the agencies of the governments,” Dambata pleaded.
Earlier in her opening remarks, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Oluremi Tinubu flanked by the Chairman, House Committee on Communications, Hon. Akeem Adeyemi, vowed that the National Assembly would ensure that Nigerians get value for their money. A visibly miffed Tinubu said that the telecom operators were robbing Nigerians of their hard earned money.
“The Telecommunications companies are robbing Nigerians of their hard earned money,” Senator Tinubu said.
While responding on the controversial USSD billing that telecom operators sought to introduce, the NCC boss declared that the commission had since carried out the directive of the government that it be canceled. He said: “there is no USSD billing.
In fact, the Minister of Communications said that the billing has been cancelled. We have complied, and we have put advertisement to that effect in daily newspapers in all parts of the country that the USSD billing is suspended. Therefore, No consumer is being charged on the USSD service.”
The NCC boss while concluding his presentation express the willingness of the commission to welcome the members of the National Assembly Committee on Communications on oversight function in the commission as the NCC had carried projects that impacts the lives of Nigerians.
“We will be very much willing to welcome the National Assembly committees on their oversight functions visits to the commission as all the projects of the commission are virtually at completion stage. Therefore, we are poised to commission a lot of these projects and by so doing show Nigerians the impacts of our various interventions,” Dambata concluded.