As the telecoms sector emerges as a leading contributor to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and as the nation prepares to launch the Fifth Generation (5G) network in 2022, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has convened the 2021 Board and Management retreat.
The Retreat, taking place at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, with the theme, “Expect More, Deliver Result”, is being organized as part of NCC’s strategic initiative for strengthening regulatory excellence and operational efficiency to sustain the growth of the sector and its contribution to the nation’s economy.
The Retreat is also meant to ensure the Commission innovates its way out of the various challenges confronting the sector within the context of global economic volatility and uncertainties, a statement by the Director, Public Affairs,Dr Ikechukwu Adinde announced.
Attended by members of NCC Board of Commissioners and other senior management staff of the Commission, the retreat is taking place in-person and virtually, with some 100 senior management staff participating virtually in compliance with the extant COVID-19 protocols.
The retreat started on Thursday, November 11, 2021 with a welcome address by the Director, Corporate Planning, Strategy and Risk Management at NCC, Felix Adeoye, whose department oversees the organisation of the annual retreats.
At the opening ceremony, participants discussed the responses to the Pre-Retreat Questionnaire and set concrete objectives for the three-day programme.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman, NCC Board of Commissioners, Prof. Adeolu Akande, said the retreat provides an avenue to “assess our achievements and challenges, so that we can brainstorm and determine the most effective and efficient ways to achieve our mandate.”
Akande affirmed that the telecom industry continues to maintain its place as one of the top three contributors to the GDP from a meagre 8.5 per cent in 2015 to 14.42 per cent as at the second quarter of 2021.
He said the sector is also a major employer of labour with a significant catalytic effect on employment, establishment of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), and increased equity and equality among citizens.
According to the Chairman, the sustenance and development of other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, education, health, energy, services, finance among others are dependent on telecommunications infrastructure, the deployment of which is being stimulated by NCC, as the sector’s regulator.
He said globally, the sector is now referred to as the ‘new oil’ because of the continual and potential evolutions and innovations, which guarantee business profitability, growth and viability. However, Akande stated that while the statement is especially true in Nigeria, considering the dwindling price of oil, it also implies that more is expected from the Commission in terms of contribution to the national coffers.
Earlier in his keynote address, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, listed the remarkable achievements recorded by the Commission in the past two years since the last retreat.
He said that despite the challenges and disruption to normal work process, it is encouraging to see that the challenge has instigated an innovative mindset in getting work done and remaining committed to the achievement of the strategic objectives of the Commission.
While underscoring the theme of this year’s retreat, Danbatta said the thematic focus is meant to nudge the Commission’s Board and Management team on how the NCC can sustain and surpass its impressive track record of performance over the years.
“We want to see how we can ensure that we continue to expect more than these successes from ourselves to deliver even better results. This is the theme and underlying purpose for this year’s retreat and while we will explore the answer together, over the next couple of days, allow me to set a premise and surmise it in a single word: commitment,” he said.
Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), who was invited to the retreat to share industry insights from licensees’ perspectives with the participants, said the operators continue to face perennial challenges of infrastructure vandalism, lack of seamless access to foreign exchange, right of way (RoW) issues, multiple taxations and regulations, bridging the access gap, among other challenges plaguing the industry.
He called on all participants and stakeholders to forge greater alliance and collaboration as this is required now, than ever before, to defeat the collective challenges and spur the strategic partnerships needed to enhance both the consolidation of the gains and the plan for harnessing rapidly-emerging innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which Nigeria requires to launch fully into the global digital age.
The facilitator of the retreat, Prof. Pat Utomi, recalled the history of the sector, stating with nostalgia how the auction of the first Digital Mobile Licence (DML) took place in the same Transcorp Hilton with fanfare, lots of expectation and with an eye on history in 2001.
He said so far, the sector has grown significantly and has made the nation proud. However, he underscored the theme of the retreat in context by stating that the Commission must deliver more superlative results because Nigerians expect more.
Utomi, who emphasized the importance of culture and commitment to sustained organizational success, urged the participants to see the appropriateness and the auspiciousness of the gathering by re-focusing on objectives, strategies, culture and communication as imperatives for achieving the mission and vision of the Commission.