How NCC eliminates telecom sector risks

By Juliet Umeh

For the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, it is not out of place to say that every sector of the economy deals with one or two issues, risks and challenges.

But how the issues are managed, handled or prevented is another thing entirely.

And, the telecommunications sector is not immune to such issues.

NCC consistently battles with telecom sector issues which may include but not limited to cybersecurity and online fraud, regulatory burden, multiple taxation, vandalism of telecommunication infrastructure, right of way challenges, access to foreign exchange and inter-industry indebtedness, among others.

This, obviously, informed the reason the regulatory body, NCC, recently embarked on a regulatory step to sensitize the industry about the need for proper and continuous risk identification with the view to managing such risks before they affect the health of the industry.

The Commission also hosted a two-day maiden conference at its headquarters in Abuja, recently, where its Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said it has become imperative to minimize risks in the industry to ensure that services are not disrupted, and that consumers obtain the best services that are globally available.

The conference with the theme: “Nigerian Telecommunications Industry: Managing the Emerging Risks and Embracing Risk Opportunities,” called for collaboration between the regulator and other stakeholders in the industry, to achieve multi-stakeholder strategies aimed at identifying and addressing emerging risks in the telecommunications sector to ensure sustainable and impacting growth.

Director of Policy, Competition and Economic Analysis, Yetunde Akinloye, who stood for the EVC, said the essence of the forum was to examine myriads of issues that challenge the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, and to enhance the development of a sustainable ICT sector in Nigeria.

Danbatta said: “The focus of this conference is to bring to the fore the ever-rising uncertainties in the global economy and the attendant regulatory/operational risks in the areas of increased data security regulations, new partnerships and transforming business models, fast-changing mix of mounting capital expenditure (CAPEX) burdens, shifting market structures, newly emerging disruption scenarios, regulatory and policy challenges amongst others.”

The EVC told participants at the event, which also featured virtual participation, that the Commission has been at the forefront of ensuring that the telecoms industry is not adversely impacted by these uncertainties/risks.

He stated that one of our Strategic Visions is to ensure a competitive market for the communications services that foster fair inclusion of all players, promote local content and innovative services in ways that facilitate new investment, job creation and consumer satisfaction.

He noted that the NDEPS is the guiding document for the Federal Government’s activities to maximise the immense opportunities inherent in digital technologies.

It will help to nudge the diversification of Nigeria’s economy and attain the key national objectives of improving security, reducing corruption, and expanding the economy.

According to him, “While risk management has been critical in our regulatory service delivery, we acknowledge that all stakeholders must be concerned about the varied uncertainties that confront the Industry.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the Information and Communication Technologies Sector is inherently filled with several business and technology risks.”

Also, in his paper presentation titled ‘X-raying Telecommunications Risk Radar: The Operators’ Perspective’, a facilitator at the event, who spoke to issues of concern to operators, Eniola Olugboyega, said that risk-taking can have positive or negative impact on businesses.

He also stated that most common losses from improper management of risk in the sector include customer dissatisfaction, fines and litigation, product failure, and loss of business opportunities, among others.

According to him, effective risk management aids effective decision making, prevents financial and reputational loss and addresses potential threats.

Thus, telecommunication risk from the operators’ perspective includes regulatory risk, insecurity, data breach risk, foreign exchange risk, rising CAPEX risk, human resource risk, and the inability to take advantage of new business models.

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