The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has established Nigeria’s telecoms sector as the fastest growing in Africa by playing the role of an efficient regulator
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, is the national regulatory authority for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria. It not only has the responsibility to issue licenses to operators, it also ensures a conducive operating environment for operators and consumers. The commission is responsible for creating an enabling environment for competition among operators in the industry as well as ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services throughout the country. It is in striking an efficient balance between operators’ need for profit and the consumers’ desire for good service that the NCC has been able to stabilise and grow the telecoms industry in the country.
This is a delicate balance, a role that only an efficient and responsible regulator could play without jeopardising the investors’ desire for profit and the subscribers’ need for effective service. The NCC has performed this role excellently well since it began operations in 2001, and especially in the last five years, which has seen Nigeria retain the position of the fastest growing and biggest telecoms market in Africa.
The innovativeness and professionalism of the management of NCC, which is largely responsible for the revolution in the sector, is not by happenstance. The law establishing the NCC made it an independent regulator, which means the commission could rely solely on the professional judgement of its members in executing its core mandate. Such professional decisions are arrived at after robust technical debates and voting.
According to Eugene Juwah, the executive vice chairman and chief executive officer of NCC, it means “we could issue license without anybody dictating to whom, and we can penalise an operator without anyone saying don’t…”
The commission’s functions include issuance of licenses and imposition of terms and conditions on the licenses to ensure fairplay among operators and good service for the subscriber. This role comes with the power to revoke a license when an operator commits a breach. Thus, the regulator ensures the operator is constantly kept in check.
Regular consultations and meetings with all stakeholders in the sector allow the commission to understand the problems of operators and interface successfully between the operators and subscribers.
As a responsive regulator, NCC promptly investigated subscribers’ complaints and sanctioned operators over issues of low capacity that have affected service negatively. Not only that, it has also been able to deepen competition among operators, thereby making telecommunications services better for consumers.
Functions of the NCC include the facilitating entry of investments into Nigeria; provision and supply of communications services, equipment and facilities; protection and promotion of the interests of consumers against unfair practices in matters relating to tariffs and charges for and the availability and quality of communications services; and ensuring that licenses implement and operate the most efficient and accurate billing system.
The NCC also enforces technical specifications and standards for the importation and use of communications equipment in Nigeria, and also developing and monitoring of performance standards and indices relating to the quality of telephone and other communications services and facilities supplied to consumers in Nigeria.
Under Juwah, the following regulations have been issued:
- Quality of Service Regulations;
- Lawful Interception of Communications Regulations;
- Annual Operating Levy Guidelines;
- Telecommunications Critical Infrastructure Bill
- Licensing Regulations;
- The Consumer Code of Practice (Amended) Regulations, 2012;
- The Nigerian Communications (Enforcement Processes, etc) Regulations, 2005;
- SIM Swap Guidelines;
- Regulations on the Registration of Telecoms Subscribers 2011 (SIM Card Registration)