By Adeyemi Adepetun
THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has finally signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with its consultants, 3R Company Nigeria Limited, for the execution of the Revenue Assurance Solutions (RAS) to strengthen and manage the integrity of revenue generation process in the Nigerian telecommunications industry.
The agreement-signing ceremony, which took place at in Abuja, was witnessed by representatives of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC). The ICRC has been guiding the partnership implementation process to give expression to the decision to procure the RAS solution within a PPP framework due to the scope of the project.
While the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, signed the agreement on behalf of the Commission, the Chief Executive Officer, 3R Nigeria Limited, Raymond Wodi, signed on behalf of his company.
Speaking at the event, Danbatta said the decision of the NCC to opt for RAS was to bolster the efforts of the Federal Government in increasing revenue generation, especially at a time when the resources at the disposal of the government are dwindling by the day.
The EVC stated that the deployment of RAS would enhance monitoring and regulatory activities concerning Annual Operating Levy (AOL) administration in the telecommunications industry and to confer higher levels of integrity and fidelity on the AOL figures obtainable in the industry.
“It is our belief that if we can be able to deploy RAS and ensure we get the true picture of what the Mobile Networks Operators (MNOs) are supposed to be paying by way of AOL, we would have accomplished an important milestone in the area of revenue generation for the Commission as well as for the government,” Danbatta said.
The EVC commended the ICRC for the guidance provided in the process of consummating the partnership. He also praised the Project Delivery Team (PDT), comprising staff of the Commission, who worked tirelessly in ensuring the project was brought to fruition, for their efforts and urged the 3R Company Nigeria Limited to ensure effective deployment and implementation of the project within its scope, objective and government’s expectations.
In his comment, Wodi of 3R Company Nigeria Limited, thanked the Commission for the opportunity given to the company to serve the industry and the government through deployment of 3R’s technology solution to ensure a more effective revenue generation from telecom licensees. He also assured the stakeholders that 3R is ready to meet and exceed expectation on the assignment.
Director, Internal Audit, ICRC, Togunde Dada-Hammed, who represented the Director-General of ICRC, Michael Ohiani, commended the NCC for the bold decision to deploy RAS. He declared that with ICRC in the picture, it would ensure support for the process in order to ensure that the project’s objectives are realised for the betterment of all the parties involved.
“Anybody that is familiar with the trends around the world, especially in Nigeria with respect to revenue challenge that the country is facing, will know that the deployment of RAS solution is the right way to go, as demonstrated by the NCC,” Dada-Hammed said.
Meanwhile, the EVC has commended the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami for his role in presenting the NCC RAS project to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) Meeting where the final approval was given for the implementation of the Solution.
The RAS project is designed to be connected to the licensed telecommunications operators’ systems and will have the capability of capturing and reporting in near real-time billing activities by the operators for the purposes of computing and assuring with minimal or no error margin, the accrued AOL payable to the NCC by the licensees. When deployed, the NCC RAS will bring a lot of solutions to the industry, including a more effective and enhanced monitoring and regulation of the licensed telecommunications operators by the Commission.
Before now, the Commission has engaged and fully sensitised MNOs, licensees within the telecoms Value Added Service chain, officials of the Commission and other industry stakeholders on the Commission’s plan to deploy RAS that will instill greater transparency and increased accuracy in the administration of AOL in the sector, as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003.
It will be recalled that the NCC’s desire to deploy the most appropriate RAS in the Nigerian telecommunications industry began in 2015 when the Commission published an invitation to bid, for entities that may wish to offer RAS services. The 3R Company Nigeria Ltd. emerged the preferred bidder and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), offered no objection to the process and its outcome.
Due to the scope of the project, it was reasoned that the objective will be better achieved through a PPP arrangement. This understanding explains the invitation sent to ICRC to guide the process, as mandated by its regulations.
Accordingly, the Commission set up a Project Delivery Team, which worked with a consortium of legal advisers, financial modelers and PPP experts with the guidance of ICRC, which ensured that appropriate steps required were complied with in keeping with the ICRC Regulations 2005.
Part of the process included ensuring due diligence of the preferred partner, which received a clean bill of health from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). The Commission also subjected the software and hardware components of the proposed RAS to the certification of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).