NCC, LTA mull free roaming within West Africa

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By Oluwatobi Opusunju

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta and Chairperson of Liberian Telecommunications Authority Madam Angelique Weeks have agreed to explore the possibility of having free roaming in West Africa as well as forging strategic alliances with stakeholders to tackle cyber security.

The two regulators said free roaming within the sub-region will bring significant benefits to consumers and other stakeholders; a common strategy on checkmating cybercrimes would enhance online transactions as the population of the sub-regions cyber-community continues to grow with greater internet penetration.

The regulators were sharing notes when Madam Weeks and a team of administrators from the West Africa Telecommunication Regulators Association (WATRA) paid a recent courtesy visit to the Nigerian regulator in Abuja.

Weeks lauds NCC’s leadership role and said she was looking forward to greater collaboration and partnership even as she thanked the NCC for the support it has offered WATRA over the years and for the role the country plays as a big sister to Liberia. Weeks and the WATRA team were received by Danbatta and other senior Management staff of the NCC, including the Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Mr. Sunday Dare.

Madam Weeks said as the Liberia Telecommunications Agency faces challenges of managing telecom promotions and it is working on some regulatory frameworks in that regard, LTA will turn to NCC for inputs to tackle the challenge and other issues that may arise from time to time on telecom regulation.

In response, Prof. Danbatta said although the NCC has succeeded in sanitizing the promotions aspect of the telecommunications industry, it still faces the challenge of improving the Quality of Service because of the size of the country’s subscribers which is over 140 million. The EVC also gave another indication of the size of the Nigerian telecom market as he told his guests that over 40 terabytes of data are used monthly in Nigeria.

Prof. Danbatta said the NCC appreciates the excellent job WATRA is doing in fostering collaboration in the West African sub-region and promised the support of the Commission in WATRA’s plan to have a permanent office complex in Abuja. He revealed that NCC is developing a framework for spectrum trading in line with Management’s 8-Point Agenda. “Once the framework is approved, operators will no longer be allowed to keep spectrum that is not being utilized” Danbatta declared.

He said that the vision of the Commission is to bring telecom to the doorsteps of Nigerians so that access to telecommunications services is not hindered by physical boundaries in consistent with what is happening all over the world. Danbatta said broadband penetration in Nigeria is over 21 percent and NCC will not rest on its oars but will continue to improve on its regulatory operations.

Mr. Tony Ojobo, Director, Public Affairs, in his Vote of Thanks to Madam Weeks and members of her team conveyed the commission’s appreciation for the visit and expressed hope that the visit will open a new vista of a robust relationship between the NCC and the Liberian Telecommunications Authority.

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