The Nigerian Communications Commissions (NCC) has commenced the creation of an enabling environment for competition among operators in the industry to ensure the provision of qualitative and efficient telecoms services as stipulated in Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003.
In order to further ensure transparency and accountability in regard to effective regulation and prevention of anti-competitive behaviour, the NCC has also commenced the implementation of the Accounting Separation Framework (ASF) in the Nigerian telecoms industry effective from July 15, 2020
The policy document, “Determination on the Implementation of an Accounting Separation Framework for the Nigerian Telecoms Industry”, which was developed via a consultative process in 2015, has undergone a comprehensive review by the regulator in collaboration with telecoms licensees and other critical industry stakeholders.
With the commencement of the implementation of the framework, telecoms licensees are, henceforth, obligated to submit their Regulatory Financial Statement (RFS) to the Commission in line with the new ASF, within seven months after the end of the licensees’ financial year.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC expressed optimism about the framework noting that “the new ASF will promote an industry environment that fosters open and transparent financial reporting, while ensuring that charges for telecom services are cost-based and non-discriminatory.”
The Commission, however, stated that submission of RFS in line with the new framework, is currently limited to and mandatory for only six telecom licensees, adding that this will subsist for an initial period of two years after which the regulator may review the list to include other operators.
The six licensees include Airtel Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited (9Mobile), Globacom Nigeria, Main One Cable Company Limited and IHS Nigeria.
Adducing reasons for limiting compliance to six operators for now, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the decision was taken to ensure necessary structure is in place for reviewing and analysing the accounts before applying the new framework to all licensees in the industry.
Danbatta, however, stated that any other licensee willing to prepare its financial statements in line with the new framework is allowed to voluntarily do so, just as he said the Commission may exercise its discretion to demand that a licensee prepare and submit separated account where it is determined that the activities of such a service provider are deemed critical to the overall well-being of the Nigerian telecoms industry.
Therefore, for full and effective implementation of the Framework, every operator under the ambit of accounting separation is required to prepare an Operator-specific Accounting Separation Manual (OASM) containing policies, principles, methodologies and procedures for accounting and cost allocation, which must be submitted to the Commission on or before October 30, 2020 for regulatory approval.
Licensees shall also be required to prepare their financial and non-financial reports in line with the Guidelines for the ASF while reports shall be furnished by the licensees for every account year beginning from the 2020 financial year end.
Also, as part of operators’ licensing conditions, the Commission requires licensees to prepare, in respect of each complete financial year or of such lesser periods as may be specified, separated accounting statements for all their activities.
According to Danbatta, the Commission considers the Accounting Separation Framework “as an effective, least evasive and less costly solution to implement to meet its regulatory objectives”, adding that the implementation of the Framework is also a key deliverable for the Commission in the new National Broadband Plan (NBP), 2020-2025.”
The EVC added that the Commission took into consideration the inputs from industry stakeholders and has provided capacity-building for operators and for relevant staff of the Commission to ensure seamless implementation of the Framework.
Danbatta further reiterated the commitment of the Commission towards continually developing policies, initiatives and programmes aimed at boosting healthy competition among telecoms operators in the country to ensure that consumers continue to enjoy efficient and affordable telecom services.
NCC Says 78.9m Nigerians now Connected to Broadband
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed that the number of Nigerians connected to high-speed internet rose to 78.9 million in June.
The data from the commission showed that telecommunications operators in the country added 2.2 million customers to their broadband database in the month to raise the figure from 76.6 million recorded in May.
This raised the country’s broadband penetration from 40.14 per cent in May to 41.27 per cent at the end of June.
The steady growth in penetration has been attributed to the telecoms operators’ aggressive push for deployment of 4G service across the country. To extend the service to more Nigerians, the largest mobile network operator in the country, MTN, recently announced more investments targeted at building more 4G infrastructure
MTN said it planned to spend an estimated N600 billion on technical infrastructure over the next three years as it looks to expand its 4G coverage across the entire country by 2024
The Federal Government also recently launched a new National Broadband Plan (NBP 2020-2025) with a target of achieving 70 per cent penetration in the next five years.
This followed the expiration of the NBP 2013-2018, which delivered 31 per cent penetration as of December 2018.
Aside from the 70 per cent penetration target, the government in the new plan also raised the benchmark speed for broadband service in Nigeria to 25 megapixels per second, which is an improvement from the 1.5mbps benchmark in the 2013-2018 plan.
Gilat Telecom, Spacecom, Unite to Bolster Satellite Services in Africa
Spacecom, operator of the AMOS satellites fleet, and Gilat Telecom, a connectivity service provider, have announced a collaboration “to develop a faster, more reliable and more cost-effective satellite service for organisations of all sizes across Africa.”
The service uses Spacecom’s AMOS-17 fully digital and advanced High Throughput Satellite (HTS) on both C and Ku band, and Gilat Telecom’s unique SD-WAN MAX technology.
The companies add that the service, available immediately, can be used for home and office connectivity including video conferences, e-health applications, e-learning, e-education, etc.
They add that the collaboration will benefit African MNOs and ISPs in several ways including CAPEX savings and higher throughput at reduced operational costs.
“Spacecom’s AMOS-17’s HTS fully digital payload enables cross-connection between all beam and all bands enabling the use of existing equipment which can also be set-up remotely by the end customers (on existing or new terminals). Using Gilat Telecom’s intelligent routing, capacity can be expanded by up to 20% (the equivalent of 6 Mbit/s can be achieved from a 5 Mbit/s downlink),” the companies state.
Another benefit is smart traffic management. The companies explain: “Gilat Telecom’s SD-WAN enables service providers and MNOs to centrally control the route that both satellite and fiber traffic takes to and from the customer.
It enables different applications – voice, streaming, caching (Facebook, Netflix, Microsoft cloud services etc.) – to be identified with automatic prioritisation, according to the customer’s needs and demands.”
Dan Zajicek, Spacecom’s CEO said: “This partnership enables us to boost the services offered to customers along with fast returns on investments to these growing markets. We are sure this fruitful cooperation will lead us to many great business opportunities in Africa.”
Asaf Rosenheck, Gilat Telecom’s CEO also said, “We are an innovative company always focused on how we can improve the service we provide to our customers. Our partnership with Spacecom demonstrates how we work across the ecosystem to drive down costs and improve capacity”.
Encomiums as Sonny Aragba-Akpore Bows Out of NCC
It was encomiums galore recently as Management and Staff of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) bid the Commission’s Head of Media Management and Public Relations, Sonny Aragba-Akpore, farewell following his retirement.
Aragba-Akpore, former Information and Communications Technology/News editor at the Guardian Newspaper, joined the service of the Commission in 2014.
Speaking at the valedictory party held in his honour on Thursday, which was attended physically and virtually by staff of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, appreciated the level of professionalism Aragba-Akpore brought to bear on his work at the Commission.
Represented at the event by Abigail Sholanke, director, Projects, Danbatta commended Aragba-Akpore for using his many years of industry experience and knowledge as a media professional and corporate communication manager to create a robust relationship with both mainstream and online media stakeholders, which, he said, has contributed significantly to the overall positive image and favourable public perception of NCC.
“On behalf of the Board, Management and Staff of Commission, we wish you a successful retirement and fruitful engagements in your future endeavours,” Danbatta said.
In his remarks, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, director, Public Affairs Department, said “within the short time I worked with Mr. Aragba-Akpore, I found him to be a man of uncommon passion for his work,” describing him as a very committed and hardworking colleague.
“We, therefore, wish you increased divine favour, as you retire from the services of the Commission.”
Other staff of the Commission, including directors, deputy directors, middle management staff, among others, took turns to talk about the favourable working relationship they had with Aragba-Akpore while at the NCC and wished him well in his retirement life.
Responding, Aragba-Akpore expressed gratitude to the Management and Staff of the Commission for their support and cooperation during his service and for organising a befitting valedictory ceremony in his honour, saying he enjoyed working with the NCC.
“This is one event I will not forget in a hurry. Indeed, I feel I am very lucky and singularly blessed and very appreciative of the privilege to work with a leading telecoms regulator like the NCC. For me, it is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said.
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