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Telecoms Holds Greatest Promise for Financial Inclusion – Danbatta

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Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman and chief executive (EVC/CE) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has stated that telecommunications remains the best enabler in expanding the frontiers of financial inclusion in Nigeria.

Telecoms Holds Greatest Promise for Financial Inclusion - Danbatta

Group photograph at the event

Danbatta affirmed this at the NCC Head Office while receiving a team from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Foundation’s Consultants, Glenbrooks Partners, who paid a visit to the Commission to explore opportunities for collaboration and partnership to enhance financial inclusion in Nigeria.

At the meeting, which held at the request of the Foundation, Danbatta said the realisation of the centrality of telecommunication to all aspects of the economy explains NCC’s upbeat in identifying access gaps and in instituting processes for the expansion of telecom infrastructure across the country.

The EVC said the infrastructure companies (Infracos) have been licensed by the Commission to cascade fibre from landing ports to the hinterland of Nigeria, especially the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.

He expressed hope that the Federal Government will take a concrete position soon to enable the Infracos to commence operations because “fibre is the real solution to the volume of transactions in the financial services sector”.

Danbatta declared that 35 million Nigerians have no access to telecommunications services and by implication; they lack access to digital financial services, a condition that undermines financial inclusion.

According to the EVC, this challenge is caused by inadequacy of both wireless and fibre connectivity infrastructure. “We need to do more investment in both fixed and wireless infrastructure to enable us to reach our target of at least 80 percent level of financial inclusion in about four years”, he emphasised.

The EVC said access to telecom services by distant, isolated, unserved and underserved communities will enable more citizens to embrace digital financial culture.

Danbatta revealed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued Mobile Money Payment Services license to some mobile network operators to enable them to undertake mobile financial transaction services.

Danbatta therefore advocated renewed greater cooperation and collaboration between the banking and telecommunications sectors to harmonise the cost of transactions for financial services in an equitable manner.

Abiodun Jagun of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who led the delegation comprising Elizabeth Mcquerry of Glenbrook Partners as well as Ifeanyi Monye and Charles Ifedi, who are consultants to Glenbrook, informed the EVC that the Foundation requested for the meeting in other to deepen the extant the partnership between the Foundation and the Federal Government of Nigeria to increase citizens’ access to financial resources.

Jagun said the discussion with the Commission is so important because it regulates the telecom sector and it is already addressing some infrastructure challenges which is central to connectivity and the embrace of digital culture and inclusive access to financial resources by citizens.

She (Jagun) said that understanding the strides made by the Commission, as well as the challenges it faces, will help the Foundation to know the nature of collaboration and support to offer without distorting or disrupting the market.

Jagun said the beauty of the visit and the discussions are meant to ensure that the philanthropic opportunities offered by BMGF are supportive and complementary to the digital ecosystem.

Mcquerry also commended the commitment of the Federal Government to expanding access to digital resources.

She also expressed hope that this commitment will trickle down to find implementation among all agencies of government.

Mcquerry equally appealed to all stakeholders to work in synergy to ensure increased access and affordability of digital and financial services by “people at the bottom of the bottom of the pyramid.”

 

 

 


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Ndukwe Reveals Secret of MTN’s Dominance Of Nigeria’s Telecoms Space

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Dr Ernest Ndukwe, Erstwhile Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has been speaking on why foremost telecommunications services provider, MTN, has continued to dominate the Nigerian telecom space like a colossus.

Ndukwe, speaking on Tuesday as a guest at the Virtual Digital Africa VIP Leadership Series powered by Digital Africa, organisers of the annual Digital Africa Conference & Exhibitions, noted that three factors – strong financial position, good management and discipline in terms of managing resources, separate MTN from the rest of the pack.

“I think it is important to say that MTN is a particularly disciplined company right from its roots; it has always been a well-run organization. It has not had the board squabbles of its competitions. Since the first board of MTN (Nigeria), some of the board members just retired last year (2019). Meanwhile, their competitions have had various owners, various quarrels, and various issues,” he said.

Ndukwe, who is the Chairman of MTN Nigeria Board, said that nobody can be blamed for this position as the way organisations manage their affairs translates to the kind of position they occupy in the business environment.

“One thing that people don’t know also is that for the first five years of existence of MTN in Nigeria, it did not pay dividends to its shareholders. They recognized the importance of scale and were pumping in all the earnings, all the profits into building networks. They started building their own microwave links; they started building their own fibre optic links all across the country because it’s a matter of planning.

“Let it be said that technology changes, the best company today might not be the best company tomorrow. A few years ago, Facebook was not on the reckoning but today, is a much bigger company. People might not make it in terms of telecommunications service delivery because in certain countries, there is actually a certain number after which the market gets saturated. There are opportunities in the technology space; all that is needed is for operators to discover them and leverage.

“When Zoom started, no person knew it was going to scale to the level it has now reached; thanks to Coronavirus. People should continue to look for opportunities and niche markets and go there because that’s where they can scale. There are many companies that are doing very well in the financial technology space in the country too.”

Dr. Ndukwe also talked about NITEL, 5G, the Stock Market, companies he admires in Nigeria and the concept of a single African Telecoms network.


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Danbatta Inaugurates Evaluation Committee for 2020 Research Proposals

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Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman and chief executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has inaugurated a 15-member Evaluation Committee for the assessment of the 2020 Telecommunications based research from Academics in the Nigerian tertiary institutions.

The Committee, chaired by Prof. Mu’azu Bashir, a professor of Computer and Control Engineering and Head of Computer Engineering Department at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was inaugurated at the Commission’s Head Office in Abuja on Wednesday, September 24, 2020.

Speaking during the inauguration, Danbatta said that the initiative speaks to the Commission’s commitment towards encouraging the development of indigenous innovative solutions that impact not only the Telecom industry/ICT sector positively but also the nation as a whole.

“We want to continuously support research projects that can lead to the development of new products and services in the industry as the key enabler of the nation’s digital economy.

“We are all aware of the appreciable contributions of the Nigerian Telecommunication sector to the growth of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) over the years, which peaked at 14.53 per cent in second quarter of 2020,” he said.

Danbatta, stated that the Commission understands that funding Research and Development (R&D) is fundamental to ensuring that the needs of consumers are properly anticipated and met while enabling sustainable economic growth, adding that the Digital Economy-based Research Innovations project underlines the importance of funding R&D.

According to the EVC, for the year 2020, the request for proposals was tailored to providing innovations and solving challenges in five emerging areas of technology.

“These include innovative clean energy technology; 5G deployment in Nigeria; Internet of Things (IoT), low power Wide Area Network (WAN) technology; advanced methods of Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) management and test mechanism as well as monitoring and localisation of drones.

“While emphasising the importance of telecommunication/ICT industry to innovative developments and transformations within the economy, Danbatta tasked members of the Committee to thoroughly evaluate all submissions in order to sieve, identify and select the best from the proposals submitted.

“Members of this Committee have been carefully selected from the Academia, related government institutions and the industry based on their pedigree.

“I have no doubt in my mind that you will carry out the assignment to the highest acceptable standards,” the EVC said.

The Committee is expected to carry out the assignment and submit its report within four (4) weeks from the day of inauguration.

 


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FG Awards Cash Prizes Worth N16.5m to Winners 0f Nigeria @ 60 Challenge

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The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, has awarded prizes worth N16.5million to nine Nigerians who emerged winners of the Nigeria @60 Independence Challenge.

It could be recalled that the Federal Government of Nigeria, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR approved an inclusive National Independence Day Celebration programme with the theme: “Together at 60,” where it called on creative Nigerians to choose brand and come up with elements that will beautify the anniversary.

The Sub-Committee, chaired by Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), minister of Communications and Digital Economy,  launched the challenge Portal on Friday, 4th September, 2020, with the aim of providing opportunity for talented, critical thinking and creative individuals or teams to produce the event slogan, photograph, and a poem.

The Jury, made up of Directors from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), evaluated the submissions based on the relevance to the theme, originality, creativity, impact and mode of presentation.

During the evaluation, a total of 3,258 entries were received, out of which 1,931 Slogan, 638 Poetry, and 689 Photography entries were submitted.

While presenting the Awards and Prizes, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and Chairman of the 60th Independence Celebration Sub-Committee, Dr Pantami said that the competition was meant to create a platform for all Nigerians to participate in the diamond jubilee anniversary.

He said “Federal Government provided this opportunity for Nigerians to choose their brand and harness the power of creative minds to create other elements that will form the brand of the anniversary.

Dr Pantami congratulated the winners and charged those that participated to continue utilising their skills for the betterment of themselves and Nigeria at large, adding that “the nation will be proud of them”.

He said the Diamond Anniversary which is will last till September 30, 2021 is a period for Nigeria to celebrate its unity.

He also commended the jury that worked day and night to ensure fairness during the selection of nine winners from each category of the competition.

Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), while delivering the welcome address, described the process as first of its kind, where citizens are engaged virtually to plan the celebration.

Abdullahi said that COVID-19 pandemic has brought another opportunity for Nigerians to celebrate 60 years anniversary in style.

The Chairman of the Independence Competition Judging Committee, Director, IT Infrastructure Solution, NITDA, Dr Usman Gambo Abdullahi said the competition was meant to tap into the creative and innovative potential of the youths.

The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi- Esan represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Tope Fashedemi  commended the efforts of all participants, describing every Nigerian as a winner.

The outcome of the assessment saw the emergence of the following as second runners up: Sani Ibrahim (Slogan), Samson Mayor Emeka (Photography) and Umoru Patrick Eghiegbai (Poetry); first runners up Yusuf Muhammad Ahmad (Slogan), Leke Adebule and Team (Photography), and Mustapha Dauda Gwary (Poetry). The winners of the challenge are: Nwakuba Ezinne (Slogan), Amao Daniel Oluwadarisimi (Photography) and Kalu Rejoice Chioma (Poetry).

The winners were presented with awards and cash prizes in each category, with the second runners up getting One Million Naira each, first runners up One Million and Five Hundred Thousand Naira each, and the winners, Three Million Naira each, for their creativity and innovative contribution to the Diamond Jubilee Celebration.

The Diamond/Innovation/Change Sub-Committee is made up of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy as Chairman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Honourable Minister Education and Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Head of Civil Service of the Federation as members, while DG NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, was later co-opted as member.

 


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