By Lucky Onyedikachi
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice-Chairman/Chief Executive, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has stated that the telecoms industry should expect new guidelines and regulations on indigenous content, among others.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the Policy Implementation Assisted Forum (Piafo-001), on the National Policy for Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector Friday, Dambatta said that “with the constitution of the NODITS, the industry should expect new guidelines and regulations bothering on indigenous content, local manufacturing of telecom equipment, outsourcing of services, construction and lease of telecoms ducts, succession planning in the telecoms sector, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, as the need arises.”
The NCC boss explained that the Commission has already put in place “a standing licensing review committee” which is currently analysing all its licenses in an effort not only of modernizing them to reflect the current realities of technology and development, but also to consolidate, bundle or un-bundle individual licenses or even create new licenses.
“In brief the NITDA Guidelines set out to introduce content requirements for all companies operating in the Nigerian ICT industry and to achieve a target of 50% local content in the industry.
“All ICT companies were also required to be registered under Nigerian entities with predominant Nigerian representation.
“The guideline is not restrictive, but is aimed at encouraging local value creation for ICT companies.
“Focus areas of the guidelines include driving indigenous innovation, developing the local ICT industry and establishing intellectual property regulation and standards protection,” he stated.
Danbatta said that due to the opportunities and challenges presented by the search for a balance for the regulator, there was a pressing need to find a middle ground between optimizing indigenous participation in ICT and maximizing the benefits of a globalized ICT ecosystem.
“For us in the Commission, we agree with the notion that such a balance is achievable through purpose driven policies that create an enabling environment towards local innovation, local participation, local job creation, local investment and local ownership.
“Collaboration with National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), a key mandate of the Commission under the NPPIC is periodic benchmarking with NITDA, our sister agency.
“In that regard, it is gratifying to note that sometime in 2013, NITDA introduced Guidelines on Nigerian Content Development for the ICT sector”.
Danbatta also assured Nigerians of the Commission’s commitment to realise the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari for promoting indigenous content in the telecommunications sector as has been done in the agricultural and petroleum sectors to achieve our goals of significant participation, preservation of scarce foreign exchange and improving the lives of Nigerians.
“To ensure effective implementation of these objectives, we are developing a robust compliance monitoring and enforcement framework leveraging on existing mechanisms.
“We are spurred by the President’s words ‘we want Nigerians to play a major role in the design and manufacture of devices, in meeting the manpower requirements and in becoming active part of the telecommunications ecosystem of the country’.
“With advancements in technology, administrations have come to recognize the need for their indigenes to participate actively in exploitation and transformation of their resources into goods and services aimed at economic growth.
“Indigenous Content Policy is therefore any policy that encourages the development of indigenous skills, technology transfer, use of indigenous manpower and indigenous manufacturing.
“As we are all aware, the Federal Government has put in place very robust policy and legal framework for local content within the oil and gas sector. Similarly, the advent of local content in the Nigerian Telecoms sector is probably as old as the Nigerian telecoms revolution itself.
“The National Telecommunications Policy posited that the domestic production of telecommunications hardware and software is desirable for national development.
“It further states that, Government shall encourage domestic production of telecommunications equipment, components and software to meet local and export demands.
“In giving legal backing to the above policy direction, the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 identifies, as one of its National Telecom Policy 2000 primary objects, the encouragement of local and foreign investments in the Nigerian communications industry,” Danbatta said.
According to him, with the steady evolution of Telecommunications in Nigeria, the industry and its infrastructure are appreciated as the infrastructure of infrastructures, positioned to drive growth and efficiency in every other sector (both private and public) by supporting the optimization of institutions and processes in the ecosystem.
“Accordingly, the development of effective local participation at all levels of the value chain becomes a sine-qua-non to the overarching national economic development and market success,” he added.