Mobile Voice: Nigeria grows active Mobile subscription beyond 220m

...Fears vandalism of telecom facilities may affect election outcome

Telecom regulator, the NCC

Nigeria’s population is put at about 220 million, but the country has grown its mobile active lines  beyond that number, increasing it from 206 million in June 2022 to 222 million by December, according to the information from the regulatory authority,  the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.

Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, dropped the hint on Thursday at the Army Resource Centre, Abuja, while making a presentation at the 2023 Edition of Youth, Civil Society and Stakeholder Summit on Curbing the Destruction and Vandalisation of Telecom and other Critical National Infrastructures in Nigeria.

Danbatta, who was represented by the Principal Manager,  Department of Technical Standards,  Mr Chukwuma Nwenwu,  also said the Commission and the Independent National Electoral Commission are working together to deliver a free, fair and credible elections with the use of digital platforms.

He said from the data on subscriptions, it was clear that Nigerian telecoms markets continued to grow in relation to increased Infrastructure, network capacities and digital economy platforms, among others.

He noted that the Summit becomes imperative considering Nigeria preparations for the 2023 general elections where use of digital platforms for communications would play key role.

NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof Umar Danbatta

Vandalisation of telecom Infrastructure was an area of concern to him just as he said the menace remained a subject of concern to all other stakeholders due to the effects on the operations of telecom providers in the country.

Infrastructure Vandalisation

Danbatta said: “We receive reports of vandalization of telecom infrastructures from the operating telecom companies and these acts impact on the quality of services and the availability of the digital platforms.”

He lamented that disruption of the network services and disconnection of digital platforms, congestion of alternative backup routes/networks, interruption of social and economy activities are issues of concern to the Commission.

Danbatta recounted the ripple effects of such acts to include loss of revenue, delay in network recovery among others.

Effects of vandalisation on 2023 Election

Sounding a warning against vandalism, Danbatta said: “We all need to protect and preserve these infrastructures, as it will impact severely on many aspects of our daily lives and activities in the event of disruptions.

“The forthcoming elections, national activities and programmes, communication with friends and families, conducting banking activities especially use of Point of Sales (PoS) machines; all depend on the national telecom infrastructure.

“The general election is only few days from today and technology as you are all aware will play a crucial and key role in delivering free and fair elections to Nigerians’’.

“The NCC is therefore working very hard and collaborating with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that election results are transmitted electronically as required by law. We all have a duty to protect the national telecom infrastructures as such to benefit from the dividends of democracy and good governance.

“The youth and civil society as a critical stakeholder in the development process of any society has a duty to educate the public of the importance of protecting telecom infrastructure located in their immediate vicinity,” he added.

The 2023 Nigerian presidential election will be held on 25 February 2023 to elect the president and vice president of Nigeria. Incumbent APC President Muhammadu Buhari is term-limited and cannot seek re-election for a third term.

Other federal elections, including elections to the House of Representatives and the Senate, will also be held on the same date while state elections will be held two weeks afterward on 11 March. The winners of the election will be inaugurated on 29 May 2023, the former date of Democracy Day.

Elections in Nigeria are forms of choosing representatives to the Nigerian federal government and the various states in the fourth republic Nigeria. Nigerians elect on the federal level a head of state – the President and a legislature – the National Assembly.

For the first time, Nigeria is going to conduct a tech-enabled election as both registrations, accreditation and proper voting are going to be enabled by tech devices like, the INEC Voter Enrollment Device (IVED), Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC Election Result Viewing Portal (IReV); three technological innovations that will drive the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.

They were also used during the 2022 governorship elections in three states, Ekiti and Osun in South Western and Anambra in South Eastern regions of the country.

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