Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to address high cost of data. He has charged the telecoms regulator to find ways of making data more affordable.
The minister finds it worrisome that data access is still pricey and among the highest in the world in spite of the country boasting of the largest number of internet users on the continent with over 174 million data users to go by the recent report of UK-based price comparison website – Cable.
In a similar vein, the minister directed Galaxy Backbone Plc, a government-owned IT service provider to think out of the box, leverage on the advantage it has as a government-funded entity to deliver efficient services to Nigerians, and in turn attract more revenue for the government.
The Cable states that Nigeria is not among the top 10 African countries with low average price of data, a position Pantami finds unacceptable.
The concerned minister also tasked the regulator to ensure subscribers get to enjoy value for money as illegal deduction of data, and poor Quality of Service (QoS) persist even in the face of high data cost.
Downward review of data price
The minister has directed NCC, as a matter of urgency, to meet with telecom operators and ensure a downward review of the price of data in Nigeria, in addition to improving the quality of service and also ending illegal deductions of subscribers’ data.
Pantami gave the directive in Abuja shortly after he was briefed by the commission on the progress made in the implementation of the Short-Term Performance targets set for it by the minister.
It would be recalled that early last month, the minister directed the commission to among other targets:
- bring to an end the issue of sales of pre-registered, unregistered and partially-registered SIM cards; and
- stem the tide of illegal deduction of the data of subscribers and work towards the downward review of the cost of data; and
- ensure compliance with the maximum 2% Call Drop Rate directive to telecom operators.
The move was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s executive order that all agencies under the supervision of a ministry are effective, efficient and accountable in the discharge of their responsibilities.
While charging the telecoms ombudsman to up its game, Pantami reminded the NCC that as a regulator, their major priority should be protecting the interest of Nigerians and urged them to uphold professionalism and diligence in the discharge of their official responsibilities.
The commission also tabled challenges of the operators which includes vandalism of telecom infrastructures, inadequate power supply, right of way, hooliganism, multiple taxations among others and used the opportunity to call for the swift intervention of the Minister to address the issues.
In the same vein, the Communications Minister also directed Galaxy Backbone Plc, a government-owned Information Technology service provider to think out of the box, leverage on the advantage it has as a government-funded entity to deliver effective and efficient services to Nigerians, and in turn attract more revenue for the government.
Galaxy has a duty to bring dividends to government
The Honourable Minister reminded Galaxy that the Nigerian government invested in it to reap the dividend of its investment, consequently, the Minister Challenged Galaxy to ensure more ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are patronizing its services, stressing that excuses would not be tolerated.
The Minister further urged Galaxy to work hand in hand with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to expand its reach and take advantage of NITDA’s regulatory authority.
Early last month, the minister directed Galaxy to:
- improve the reach and coverage of its services in the public sector; and
- significantly improve the quality of services provided.
Pantami also notified the chief executives that the scorecard of their performance on short-term targets and new targets will be sent to them for implementation.