Riding on the successes of its strategic vision plan (SVP) 2015 – 2020, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) last week took another step forward in ensuring continuous growth of the telecommunications sector as it unveiled a new SVP (2021 – 2025). The plan, which is geared towards strategically coordinating and aligning resources and actions to better achieve the Commission’s is seen as a pivotal tool to facilitate the emergence of a knowledge-based economy in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that a very important indicator of the effective implementation of the expired SVP by the NCC was its efforts in achieving and surpassing the 30 per cent broadband penetration set by the Federal Government by 2018, up from about 6 per cent in 2015, among others. The increase in broadband penetration, Internet usage, number of access to telephone and several other initiatives by the Commission, especially in the areas of driving tech innovations, creating employment, promoting digital inclusiveness, have helped improve the sectors’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution from 8.50 per cent in 2015 to over 11 per cent currently, with a lot of digital activities taking place in all the sectors of the economy.
The old plan
Speaking on the achievements of the SVP 2015-2020, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said since his assumption of office, the NCC has focused on strategic objectives which are in tandem with the policy objectives of the Federal Government. According to him, strategic objectives, the result of a careful assessment of some existing policy frameworks, offered the Commission the opportunity to chart a course of action for the sector in the SVP, which items include facilitating broadband penetration; improving Quality of Service; optimizing usage and benefits of spectrum; promoting ICT investment and innovation; protecting and empowering consumers; promoting fair competition and inclusive growth; facilitating strategic collaboration and partnerships; and ensuring regulatory excellence and operational efficiency.
“In developing the SVP (2015-2020), we had leveraged various policy documents, which included Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan (2013-2018) that had set a target of a five-fold increase in broadband penetration, from 6 per cent in 2013 to 30 per cent penetration by the end of 2018. The NCC recorded a broadband penetration of 31.48 per cent in December 2018,” Danbatta said.
The EVC added that the Commission also took cognizance of its Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2014–2018 which defined clear strategic results in terms of themes such as facilitating market development, regulatory excellence, ICT penetration, and Strategic Partnering. “Indeed, as an important stakeholder, even to the international community, we had, in the development of the SVP (2015-2020), also aligned with the global focus of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Expectedly, we leveraged on the Vision Plan (2013-2018) of the ITU which had sustainability, inclusiveness, and growth as the primary thrusts in defining our implementation items of the Plan,” he said.
Upon the expiration of NCC’s initial SVP anchored on an 8-Point Agenda, the diligent implementation of which has helped the Commission to increase service availability, accessibility, and affordability, the NCC Management led by Prof. Danbatta initiated the process for the development of another five years SVP.
The SVP 2021-2025
According to Danbatta, the need to reinvigorate the Commission and take it to greater heights informed the development of a new Strategic Vision Plan (SVP). Speaking at an event to unveil the plan, which was held alongside the launch of a book on the EVC’s speeches and the Commission’s new media channel – NCC Global Connect, Danbatta said the SVP will define NCC’s strategic thrusts for the next five years.
“We have taken cognizance of the several notable advancements in the Nigerian telecommunications industry within the last five (5) years, as well as the current global realities such as International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Strategic Plan (2020 – 2023), the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 for a digital Nigeria, the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government. Thus, the new plan has been guided by and aligned to the NNBP (2020-2025), the NDEPS (2020-2030), the SMP (2020-2024), the ITU Strategic Plan, and the ERGP of the Federal Government,” Danbatta said.
The EVC disclosed that the new SVP has five items, which include organizational renewal for operational efficiency and regulatory excellence; facilitating the provision of infrastructure for a digital economy that fosters national development; promoting fair competition, inclusive growth, increased investment and innovative services; improving Quality of Service (QoS) for enhanced consumer Quality of Experience (QoE); and facilitating strategic collaboration and partnership.
“To ensure a strong commitment to its implementation, the new SVP also has inbuilt initiatives, key performance indicators developed from inception, and activities tied to an implementation responsibility matrix.
“It also incorporates timelines and a robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism. It is equally outcome-based and recommendation-driven with follow-up actions to guide the Commission in operationalising the plan and assessing its performance over time.
“The new SVP, no doubt, embodies several innovative elements deliberately designed to re-invent and transform the telecom ecosystem within the context of regulation. This takes me to the next innovative project, the Compendium of EVC’s Speeches and Presentations,” Danbatta stated.
According to Danbatta, the new SVP will naturally ride on the new Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024 unveiled in June last year. As a visioning document of the Commission for planning, monitoring, analysing, and assessment of the Commission to meet its goals and set objectives, Danbatta said the SVP and current SMP will be fully leveraged by the NCC management for serious improvement in the performance matrix and its efforts in accelerating the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) and the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2020 - 2025 of the Federal Government.
Stakeholders commend regulator
Meanwhile, several stakeholders including the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, and other critical stakeholders in the telecommunications sector have commended the NCC for the historic launch of its lofty Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2021-2025. Speaking at the launch in Abuja, Pantami commended the EVC of NCC on the success of the first SVP and said the current one will also help in delivering on objectives of national policies on digital economy.
He particularly said that he was happy and optimistic that with the new SVP, the NCC will lead the way in the implementation of the NNBP 2020-2025 and NDEPS towards fast-tracking the attainment of national targets on digital economy vision of the Federal Government. He said the main function of the communications ministry was to provide an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive, adding this is what the Ministry and regulators such as NCC, under its purview have been doing creditably.
He explained that it was necessary for the private sector to be more successful because they control the majority of the economy.
“Strategic vision is key to the foundation of whatever we do. Usually, strategy cascades our national policy for implementation. This strategy of NCC has cascaded the two national policies that are relevant to it, most importantly, the national digital economic policy and strategy for a digital Nigeria and Nigerian national broadband plan. This is what the strategy is all about," Pantami said.
Similarly, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, applauded the Commission for its futuristic vision, which he noted, was on the right course and capable of taking Nigeria to greater heights in the 21st century.
Also, Chairman, House Committee on Telecommunications, Hon. Akeem Adeyemi, extolled the SVP initiative as another project of the NCC, noting that the NCC had consistently been a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the last few years.
In his address, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Muhammed Abubakar commended the EVC for his visionary leadership. According to Abubakar, the initiatives would guide the transformation of Nigeria, digitally. He also lauded the Minister of communication and Digital Economy, Pantami, for his efforts and support to the growth of the digital ecosystem.
With the new SVP, the NCC has again accentuated its pedigree as a government agency that believes in effective planning to achieve results and evidence-based regulatory activities to accelerate the industry’s growth. Implementation of this plan will, no doubt, help the industry to sustain its current growth.