NCC: 20 Years of Digital Feat

Prof. Danbatta

The Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC has remained one of the best examples of Federal Government institutions delivering good dividends in the current administration.
What are outstanding achievements of the NCC under professor Umar Garba Danbatta, since he emerged it’s CEO, following the NCC Act being signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari?

By Sabiu Abdullahi

Nigeria’s vision of a regulatory communications services agency came to life about 29 years ago, with the emergence of a well-structuted Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). Since then, the agency has lived up to its billing of providing standard regulatory services that turned out to be the best on the African continent today. It has also maintained its independence as an institution of public service.

Looking back, the NCC was birthed by Decree number 75 by the Federal Military Government of Nigeria on 24th of November, 1992. It was also charged with the responsibility of regulating the supply of telecommunications services and facilities, promoting competition, and setting performance standards for telephone services in the country. However, this Decree was abrogated and replaced with the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003. And Professor Umar Garba Danbatta has been at the helm of affairs of the agency since 2015, under the new Act.

Professor Danbatta got down to business upon assumption of duty, using innovativeness in tune with modern trends in the telecommunications industry. His management strategy has since become the plank upon which his highly resourceful management has been performing creditably well.


For its sterling performance, the agency has got a deluge of performance awards in the realm of enhancing digital transformation in Nigeria. This cheering news has given the commission a new, unrivalled public image, as the number of respected telecoms consortium soared with performance awards for the NCC. This came from an unprecedented number of awardees, some even outside the shorew of this country. And the number of award-giving institutions innfavor of the NCC has not yet stopped swelling.

A special publication of the telecoms regulatory giant noted thus : “It is two decades since the NCC midwifed the birth of Global System of Mobile Communications (GSM), to herald a new era of public communication in Nigeria.”

On the floodgate of awards, the NCC publication states thus : “The new awards were conferred on the Commission and its Management at different fora organised to commemorate 20 years of revolutionary digital communication in Nigeria.
Besides the serial honour attending the celebrations of two decades of the GSM revolution, the Commission also won awards at annual events organised by strategic stakeholders, including, the Nigerian telecom sector’s equivalent of Oscars, the Nigeria Tech Innovations & Telecoms Awards (NTITA), 2021.”

The publication then reveals: “At NTITA, NCC received the ‘Outstanding Telecom Regulator of the Year’ award, while its CEO, Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman, was honoured with the ‘Telecoms Industry Leader’ award. The event took place in Lagos, on 19th November 2021.”
Just before then, at another event organised by the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), in collaboration with Digivation Network, the Commission grabbed another laurel, tagged ‘The Premier African Regulator’ award. “The EVC was also honoured with the ‘Regulatory Excellence Award’, while the Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Barrister Adeleke Adewolu, received ‘The Outstanding Digital Impact Personality’ award.”

The historic event, marking the milestones of the commission, simply named ’20 Years of Digital Revolution Powered by GSM, was unveiled at the Nigerian Air Force Conference Centre, Abuja, last month on the 11th day of November, 2021.

Just while industry watchers thought they had seen the last of the laurels galore, same day, at another historic event organised by E-Business Life Magazine at the Oriental Hotel, the NCC bagged ‘Technology Transformer Award’.

With the tempo of special awards still in top gear, the NCC also received the ‘Regulator of the Year’ (2021) award from a mainstream national daily – New Telegraph Awards 2021. This happened at an elaborate function organised at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos, on Friday, November 19, 2021.

It was also widely reported that “at the event organised at NAF Conference Centre in Abuja, a panel representing shades of stakeholders in the telecom and ICT sector, took a retrospective reflection at the last 20 years of telecom liberalisation under NCC’s supervision.” The reports further revealed that “the panelists agreed that there have been irreversible, exponential transformation of the sector with visible impact on all other sectors of the Nigerian economy.

“The panelists reminisced on developments in the sector in an inquisitorial manner, asking the audience to measure the dynamism in the telecom sector in terms of digital sophistication and digital literacy in comparison to what it was two decades ago.”

How it all went? The speakers, took turns to “examine in objective contexts, how telecoms service availability, affordability and accessibility have benefited persons of all social strata, especially the disadvantaged segment of the society.”

Moving on, the panel also “took a stock of the general impact of the digital culture from a historical perspective in order to properly capture the milestones.”

Interesting to industry watchers is the biggest dream of the regulatory body – the ignition of 5G network. This, according to experts is what would launch Nigeria into the mainstream of the global communication’s most-competitive era. Anoth report from the NCC states inter-alia: “As Nigeria prepares for the launch of the Fifth Generation (5G) networks, the panelists agreed that there will be more benefits to harvest from the emerging technologies. Thus, they urged all stakeholders to heighten education of citizens and especially telecom consumers, in order to halt the misinformation about 5G.”

Furthermore, according to the regulatory agency’s compehensive documentation, “The discussants also expressed confidence in the ability of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the NCC to rally stakeholders to deepen engagement at all levels and sectors to focus on the implementation of policies to ensure attainment of the set targets.”

Excited by tye giant leaps recorded so far and the blueprint for moving to the next level, the Director Public Affairs at the Commission, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, doffed his hat for stakeholders, who gave allmof their time to partake in “the various events where the Commission and its leaders were honoured, for their dedicated solidarity.” Not only that he also reportedly expressed gratitude to all the stakeholders, for recognising the Commission with “landmark awards and for the impeccable honours.”

Going a notch further, Adinde opined that such number of awards to NCC in just a fortnight, was a testimony to “the strong collaboration between the Commission and the stakeholders and their conviction that NCC is fulfilling its mandate.”

Adinde emphasized, before the mammoth gathering of professionals, that the E-Business Life forum recognition NCC will further galvanize the Commission’s management led by Prof. Umar Danbatta and his dynamic team to “do more to expand the frontiers of opportunities of digital economy to enable citizens and other investors…”

It is now abundantly clear, that the NCC has recorded unbeatable achievements as a telecommunications giant manned by a result-oriented management. Observers of the NCC are unanimous in the view that that the commission has set a good precedent on both management startegy and a determination to rise to greater heights.

Though there are challenges along the path to his milestone, the pale into insignificance, considering the numerous laurels the commission has in its kitty.

The NCC will forever be remembered for breaking new ground in the history of the telecoms industry in Nigeria nay Africa, according to observers.

In addition to revolutionising the nation’s telecoms history, the NCC has also remained one of the giant Federal Government agencies generating generating unprecedented revenue to help boost the nation’s economic fortunes.

The year 2022, according to anlaysts, will see the NCC emerging with a bundle of laurels for breathing life into the 5G project dream, another landmark achievement for the nation in general and the telecoms industry in particular. A national commentator once wrote: ” the NCC has remained the bedrock of our national economic stabilization efforts as a nation whose coffers have suffered backward slide due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the new threat of Omicron”.

Significantly, the NCC has recently announced the readiness of the commission to help with Nigeria’s worrisome infrastructure deficit. This will be a no mean feat, considering that this is one issue at the centre of the nation’s most pressing challenges of the era.