Stakeholders task Danbatta on $32b telecoms sector restructuring


Umaru Garba Danbatta

AS the newly appointed Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umaru Garba Danbatta, settles down as the commission’s boss, stakeholders in the telecommunications sector, adjudged to worth over $32 billion, have beckoned on him to quickly restructure the sub-Sector for better performance.

Danbatta, a Professor of Engineering, took over the leadership of the NCC, from Dr. Eugene Juwah, after his appointment by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, last week.

Danbatta, who after meeting with the staff of NCC at the weekend, already promised to start work immediately on the sector’s major problem—poor quality of service, has been told to do a proper restructuring and reengineering of the sector.

Stakeholders, who spoke to The Guardian, believed that with the vast knowledge Danbatta is bringing to the sector, there should be improvements across board.

London based, telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, in an email response to The Guardian enquiries, said while Danbatta must not deviate from some of the good works his predecessor, Juwah, had done while in office, especially as regards policies aimed at deepening broadband penetration in the country, he urged the new NCC boss to try as much as possible reengineer and restructure the sector.

Aluko was of the view that restructuring the telecommunications sector would be to further implement policies that guarantee and channel more investments to the sector. He asked Danbatta to also ensure customers get better services for their money.   “I would appreciate he focus on policies that will drive customers’satisfaction.

He also needs to ensure further penetration of broadband. The 30 per cent target for 2018 should not be derailed or jettisoned. He should follow the process to the letters and ensure speedy implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP). There should also not be favouritism of one operator against others. That alone can spell doom for the growth of the sector.

He also need to be very transparent in his doings. I wish him well”, he stated.    Like Aluko, the President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Lanre Ajayi, also advised Danbatta not to deviate but build on existing policies and agenda set by his predecessor.

Ajayi said derailment from the existing agenda in the telecommunications industry is capable of bringing unnecessary distraction to the system, but however accepted that fresh ideas would be a welcome development, only when they become necessary. “Danbatta should not be in a hurry to jettison existing telecommunications agenda and plans, but should build on existing agenda in order to carry along investors who are interested in investing in the country’s telecommunications sector and who must have built their businesses around the broadband plan”, he stated.

The ATCON boss urged him to see through implementation of the NBP, targeted at increasing access to the Internet. The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, an engineer, said Danbatta must stamp out the sector’s challenges, as it relates to regulation and the environment.

Adebayo, who said there should be peer review, where stakeholders would regularly meet to come up with ideas on how to move the sector forward, said Danbatta must do away with issues that will discredit the sector as witnessed in the last administration.

He pointed out that failure of the government to improve infrastructure took toll on the operators, which had to start rolling out even under a difficult terrain.

He lamented that operators also suffered willful damage to the facilities and incessant multiple taxation, especially from government agents both at Federal and state levels.

The ALTON chairman also listed other challenges to include erratic power supply, multiple regulations from government circle, insecurity, among others.

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