Ndukwe lists priorities before exit in 2010

No Comments » August 24th, 2008 posted by // Categories: ICT Industry Development Project



Ndukwe lists priorities before exit in 2010

Bode Adewumi and Oluwaseun Ayantokun, Lagos – updated: Wednesday 20-08-2008

After reviewing the Nigerian telecom industry on its 7th Anniversary of launch of GSM services, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe over the weekend in Lagos, declared that he would leave a legacy of very professional and strong regulatory body, and a robust telecoms network crisscrossing the entire nation before he quits the scene in 2010 when his tenure expires.

Dr. Ndukwe who fielded questions from IT Editors and Correspondents at an interactive session at the Lagoon Restaurant, Victoria Island, Lagos, said he believes that once the right processes are put in place, there will be no reason why things would not continue to move in the right direction, and that he would entrench those ideals within the one and half years left of his tenure.

He listed some of his priorities to include massive expansion of telecom transmission infrastructure across the country through the Wire Nigeria, WIN, project, spreading broadband and Internet services to urban and semi urban location through the State Accelerated Broadband Initiative, SABI, and achieving a profound improvement in quality of services across the networks.

“Between now and 2010 this country will have even a more robust telecom industry. I will like to continue to develop the manpower of the Commission and set up the right processes.“My major aspiration is to continue to develop the commission to be manned by very good people that will be able to sustain and maintain the reputation of the Nigerian Communications Commission even after I have left”, he said.

On the day the NCC boss was also decorated with the award of Icon of the Nigerian Telecom Revolution, at the ceremony organized by Telecom News magazine, he said Nigeria has a lot to celebrate on the 7th anniversary of the telecom revolution as Nigerian has become the leading telecom nation in Africa in terms of subscriber base, at more than 54 million lines as at today, and is one of the top ten countries in the world in the field of growth of the telecom industry.

According to him, the sector has witnessed surprised expectations with huge investments still coming. He cited the buying of Multilinks by Telkom South Africa, the merger of four operators to form the bigger Visafone, the partial acquisition of Intercellular by Sudatel, and expansion of the investment base of Starcomms which has also gone to the stock market, as very significant in the attractiveness of the industry to telecom investments.

“Since January this year, the telecom network has witnessed steady growth which currently outstrips 1.2 million lines every month, which indicates the fact that the growth rate is still not abetted. This also shows that Nigeria has witnessed economic growth because there is a linkage between acquisition of telecom services and economic improvement”, he said.

Dr. Ndukwe also said Nigeria is proud to be playing host to other African regulators who are seeking to understudy the various processes and strategies adopted by the Commission to register the current successes. These countries include Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Liberia, Gambia among others.

He also said the Commission has been very active on the issue of quality of services across the networks with marginal improvements recorded against all odds. According to him, some of the measures taken in this direction include the imposition of compensation to the subscribers. He said this is the first time a telecom regulator in Africa, if not in any part of the world, would force the operators to pay compensation to all the active subscribers in their networks.

He said the reason for forcing the compensation was because the Commission believed that the subscribers would have lost some seconds and minutes as a result of the unacceptable quality of services rendered by the affected operators. Dr. Ndukwe also listed the projects by the Commission to address prevalence of phone thefts in the country before the end of the year, and the latest attempts to register prepaid SIM cards in order to combat incessant criminal activities perpetrated through use of phone lines without usage identities, as some those actions focused on improving the value of phone services in the country.

On the questions whether the registration of SIM cards would not be counter productive as people may abuse the identity of others, Dr. Ndukwe said he is an advocate of a national identification system which ensures that everybody is identifiable from birth as is done in some countries of the world. Hence, the Commission is working is working with the National Identity Management Commission, Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, and other bodies to ensure that a good and credible data base is put in place for the benefit of all.

On the issue of slow start by some operators who have not launched services since receiving license, the NCC boss said he is aware that Etisalat has done a test run on its network, and had placed calls to him from its network while he was out of the country. He said the Commission has written Alheri (Member of Dangote Group which has a 3G license) to understand why much has not been heard from the company. But he was quick to add that it is the operator that paid huge license fees and fail to launch that is actually loosing money as it would not make sense to pay $400 million and keep the license.

On the slow growth of the landline network in Nigeria, Dr. Ndukwe said that most of the land line infrastructures across the world today were built in the 1980s and the 1990s, which he said was the time that Nigeria missed the opportunity and that up to 2000, rather than progress, NITEL’s infrastructure has retrogressed.

He noted that with the fibre optics projects going on with some operators like Globacom focusing also on the fixed, their may be some hope. While agreeing that the cabling infrastructure is best for high bandwidth traffic, he however said some wireless systems are now carrying as huge bandwidth which is the reason why some of the operators have embraced it.


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