The Nigerian Senate has confirmed the re-appointment of Prof Umar Garba Danbatta as executive vice-chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian communications commission (NCC), the agency responsible for the regulation of the telecommunications sector in the country.
The Senate made this confirmation on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, following the report from the Senate committee on communications.
Recall that on June 05, 2020, Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari re-appointed Danbatta as the head of Nigeria's telecom regulator. However, this appointment was subject to a Senate approval.
On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, Danbatta faced the Senate screening committee, where he gave an account of his performance for the last five years before his re-appointment was finally confirmed.
This will be Danbatta's second tenure as head of the NCC. His first tenure started on August 4, 2015, when President Buhari appointed him in acting capacity. The Senate then confirmed the appointment roughly three months later on November 26, 2015.
Earlier in June, when the President made this appointment, the NCC stated that the move was to consolidate gains made in the telecoms industry in the past five years.
So far, the telecoms industry has witnessed some major milestones in four the past few years.
The chairman states that his current tenure will focus on broadband penetration, consumer protection and empowerment, efficient resources utilisation and facilitation of fibre installation around the country.
Interestingly, in the past few months, a lot of activities have been ongoing with regards to broadband penetration and fibre connectivity.
In February 2020, the Ministry of Communications and the Digital Economy commissioned the National Broadband Plan for 2020-2025.Inside this plan, Nigeria hopes to achieve 70% broadband penetration.
Since the launch of this plan, seven states have crashed right-of-way (RoW) charges. Drastically reducing the government levy costs of laying fibre cables around those states.
A new regulation for telcos?
Meanwhile coinciding with Danbatta's appointment, the NCC also released its plan to mandate telcos to submit their yearly financial records to the telecom regulator.
According to the NCC, the new directive will take effect from July, 15, 2020, and six major telcos -- MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9Mobile, MainOne and IHS -- are mandated to submit their financials. For now, other telcos might only have to do this voluntarily.
The implementation of this initiative is aimed at boosting competition and limiting anti-competitive practices in the country's telecom sector.