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Telecom industry stakeholders call for convergence of NCC and NBC

By on October 9, 2015

Stakeholders in the telecommunications industry have called for immediate convergence of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).  This was sequel to recent pronouncement by President Muhammadu Buhari that the NCC is one of the key money generating agencies of the government.

The industry stakeholders also want the federal government to empower the NCC to manage the converged industries.

They based their demand on the premise that since the president has recognised the NCC among the key money generating agencies, the presidency should also empower the NCC through convergence, to enable it generate more money for government.

Buhari, who made the declaration in his October 1 broadcast, said: “In addition to NNPC, I have ordered a complete audit of our other revenue generating agencies mainly CBN, FIRS, Customs, NCC, for better service delivery to the nation. Prudent house-keeping is needed now more than ever in view of the sharp decline in world market oil prices.”

President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Lanre Ajayi, told this THISDAY that government was too slow in addressing the issue of convergence between the broadcast industry, which the NBC currently regulates and the telecoms industry, which the NCC currently regulates.

He noted that the “the delay is beginning to cause some setbacks and distortions in the speedy growth of both industries and the time for government to act is now.”

Ajayi said: “It is not enough to declare NCC as a money generating agency of government, because we are all aware that NCC has done so much in raising the status of telecommunications to an enviable position, attracting foreign direct investments (FDI) and contributing so much to the country’s GDP. What government should do is to enlarge the coast of NCC, by empowering it to regulate the converged industries that Nigerians have been clamouring for.”

According to him, technology trend had already opened up the space for convergence since subscribers could use a single smartphone that was initially meant for voice communication, to also do data communication and broadcast communication.

“For instance the smartphone could be used to make and receive calls, browse the internet, listen to radio broadcast, watch television broadcast and also do video streaming. This in itself is convergence, but government has been slow to converge the broadcast and telecommunication industries, despite several recommendations from industry stakeholders”, Ajayi added.

Speaking in the same vein, a telecoms subscriber, Mr. David Dapo, observed that the subscribers to both industries were already converged, even though government has not made any pronunciation on it. He however called on government to quickly converge both sectors, in line with global technology trend.

The Secretary-General, Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), Mr. Shola Taylor, a Nigerian who is directing the affairs of CTO, had last month, while delivering the first annual lecture of NBC, to mark its 23rd anniversary, said there was need for the repealing of the Acts setting up NBC and NCC and for government to come up with better policies and regulation that will address the issue of convergence.

Many countries have recognised this technology trend and this explains why in most jurisdictions, the ICT sector is regulated by one converged regulator with the objective to attract investments in the sector, Taylor said.