The Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) has called on the Federal Government to classify telecommunication infrastructures as critical national infrastructures where vandalization on such infrastructures should be criminalised.
Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, made the call at the weekend during a media chat with Journalists in Kano.
According to him, some of the major challenges the commission faces is the wilful or unwillful destruction of communication infrastructures such as fibre cuts by unscrupulous Nigerians which results in power outages and disruption of services.
Other challenges to broadband deployment, he said, are the issues of right of way (RoW), high capital requirement for deployment, multiple taxations and regulations, among others.
He further explained that, there are over 40 different taxes directed at the telecom sector at the moment, coming in various names, by some agencies and tiers of government, especially at the state and local levels, which translates into greater economic burdens on telecom subscribers in the country.
He however noted that, the Commission has made remarkable achievement in his eight years of been the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commision of which includes; the establishment of 31 emergency communication centres in 31 states of the Federation and the FCT with a toll free number of 622 to respond to emergency services; an increased in the number of research grants given to public universities from one research grant yearly to about 12-15 universities yearly; trainings and interventions among others.
The Communication boss also added that, the telecoms sector has contributed to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which has significantly increased to 16 percent in the second quarter of 2023 based on computation by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics from about 8 percent in 2015 when he came on board, noting that, it has continued to impact positively on the nation’s economy.
Prof. Danbatta also revealed that, 218.9 million Nigerians used handheld devices, 88.27 million broadband internet subsrcibers while 116 million have access to the internet.
He further reiterated the commissions commitments to protection of communication infrastructures and ensuring that gaps are bridged and no Nigerians lack access to communication services by monitoring the quality of services provided by all operators, and ensuring this services are consistent and sanction given where there are no improvement.