By Favour Unukaso
GOING forward, telecommunications sector licensees will be held more accountable for all their deeds in the sector.
The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Aminu Maida, stated this in Lagos Thursday, during an enlarged media interaction with journalists.
Aminu, who used the occasion to unveil his plan for the sector, said it has become necessary to reposition the sector and push it forward.
The EVC, who marked 100 days in office Thursday, disclosed that the NCC under him would focus on key areas, which are collaboration; Data centric administration, compliance and monitoring and digitisation.
Specifically, on compliance, Maida said the commission would hold all industry licensees accountable for all their deeds in the sector, stressing that operators must honour agreements.
Maida’s declaration came as NCC informed that it has directed MTN to stop the disconnection of Globacom over interconnect debts it owed it.
The NCC said MTN and Globacom have reached an agreement to resolve the interconnect debt issue, over which the former was to disconnect the latter.
This came as the 10-day pre-disconnection notice issued by the Commission lapsed yesterday.
However, NCC in a statement signed by its Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Mouka, noted that the disconnection is only ‘put on hold’ for 21 days starting from January 17th, 2024. Within this period, the debt issue is expected to have been completely resolved.
Recall that the telecoms regulator had last week approved a partial disconnection of Globacom by MTN over its refusal to pay interconnect debt.
The development then was to see MTN partially disconnection Glo network from its network as instructed by the telecoms regulator. It would mean that Globacom’s subscribers would not be able to make calls to any MTN number. However, Glo customers can receive inbound calls from MTN customers.
Muoka said: “The Commission is pleased to announce that the parties have now reached an agreement to resolve all outstanding issues between them. For this reason, and in the exercise of its regulatory powers in that regard, the Commission has put the phased disconnection on hold for a period of 21 (twenty-one) days from today, January 17, 2024.
“Whilst the Commission expects MTN and Glo to resolve all outstanding issues within the 21-day period, the Commission insists that interconnect debts must be settled by all operating companies as a necessary component towards compliance with regulatory obligations of all licensees. It is OBLIGATORY that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other licensees in the telecom industry keep to the terms and conditions of their licenses, especially as contained in their interconnection agreements.”
Recall that as of 2020, the former Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, who described interconnect debt as “a big challenge” in the industry, put the debt figure at over N70 billion, noting that this has been threatening the operators’ capacity to expand their infrastructure for better quality service.
FURTHER on his plan, Maida said to achieve the four areas listed, NCC under him will work with three major stakeholders, which are telecoms consumers, operators (investors) and the government.
He stressed that the need of each of the stakeholders would be looked into, especially as regards quality of experience (QoE) on services.
Harping on transparency, the EVC, who assured of the commission’s independence, said everything under him would be handled and done transparently.
“Everybody including industry licensees in the value chain shall be held accountable. Regulations will come in and there will be consequences,” he stated.
Assuring that the sector will remain the backbone for other sectors, the EVC said operations would align with global best practices.
Maida said the commission would work with the Ministry of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy Blueprint, unveiled by Minister Bosun Tijani, saying all efforts will be deployed to ensure that the sector contributes more, especially in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the economy and job creation.