In a bid to eliminate recent disputes over regulatory roles between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the federal government has granted approval for the review of the NCC Act 2003.
This decision aims to establish a clear distinction between the functions of both government agencies and preserve the telecommunications sector’s pivotal contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, confirmed this development during the Telecom Executives and Regulators Forum (TERF) held in Lagos. Danbatta revealed that the NCC had completed the initial and secondary drafts of the NCC Act 2003 review, which have been submitted to the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, for approval. The final draft is expected to be released shortly.
He stated, “The Nigerian Communication Act is currently being reviewed. The first and second draft has been concluded and the final draft will soon be released. The second draft has been made available to the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani. We had to review the NCC Act to ensure that all areas of conflicts and overlaps can be addressed so that NITDA and NCC can co-exist without friction of roles.”
The NCC Act 2003, originally signed into law by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on July 8, 2003, empowers the NCC as a regulator responsible for establishing a regulatory framework for the Nigerian communications industry and promoting the implementation of national telecommunications policy.
The need for the NCC Act’s revision arises from the proposed NITDA Bill submitted to the ninth Assembly, which aims to transform NITDA from a developmental agency into a regulatory agency. The bill seeks to empower NITDA to administer, implement, and regulate Information Technology Systems and Practice in Nigeria, potentially creating regulatory conflicts in a sector already governed by NCC.
Industry stakeholders voiced strong opposition to the NITDA Bill, expressing concerns that it would disrupt the telecoms sector’s growth. They argued that their inputs and interests were not adequately considered during the bill’s drafting.
Despite passing through the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on ICT and Cyber Security, the NITDA Bill did not receive President Muhammadu Buhari’s signature before his departure from office in May 2023. Industry leaders, including Prof. Adesina Sodiya and Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), called for a swift review of the NCC Act to define NCC’s regulatory role more clearly and protect the telecoms sector’s contributions to the national economy.
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