THE year 2020 has come and gone with all its attendant vicissitudes and here comes another year with a promise of better hope and beginning.
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in Nigeria was not exempted from the hullabaloo of last year and hopefully, things would look up this year. While some of the problems last year were with us long before now, some also were manmade.
However, improvements in some areas will do well to help the industry and allow Nigerians to enjoy seamless telecommunications services without many hassles.
Quality of Service
This has been a contentious issue over the years. While the service providers have been saying they are doing their best to provide quality telephony services to Nigerians alike, they are always quick to point to hindrances in the pursuit of excellent services like poor electricity supply, Right of Ways (RoWs) and multiple taxations among many others. A lot of improvement is expected in this regard in the New Year.
Affordable Broadband (Internet)
Broadband is undoubtedly an important aspect of telecommunications all over the world. One of the operator’s slogan says data is oxygen. This is to underscore the importance of internet to the people. Unfortunately, despite all efforts by the government and the operators, the price of data is still prohibitive in the country. Nigerians will appreciate a rapid reduction in the price of data and by extension be able to do more in their day to day activities.
Regulation the sector has been robust right from inception till today, but not without faults and mediations from the supervising ministry, which at times affect Nigerians in the negative way. Mention must be made of the fact that this is a critical sector of the Nigerian economy and therefore efforts and caution must be exercised in proclaiming fiats or policies to regulate the industry.
Example of this is the current directive by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that Nigerians should link their Subscribers Identification Modules (SIM) cards to their National Identification Number (NIN).
Though, Nigerians are complying with the directive, but the attendant pains are telling and many have voiced their frustrations at the fire brigade approach employed by the government.
At the initial stage, the government gave a two-week ultimatum but it has been extended till February, but Nigerians are still calling on the government to extend further the deadline.
Stakeholders like the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ALTON) and the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and the service providers among others have been working round the clock to make the exercise easier for Nigerians.
Although, Nigerians have expressed reservations about the directive, stakeholders have listed some of the benefits of the programme.
For Instance, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) just last week said the exercise is good for Nigeria.
ATCON’s President, Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani said: “The registration for NIN is very important for the country. It will help in national planning and provision of services to citizens. Having a harmonised database covering various key industries including telecommunications, financial, healthcare and even education will help improve the quality of life of the citizens and also secure the country.
“It is important we highlight the need for NIN at all times when discussing this issue. ATCON as an association is in full support of the implementation of the NIN and ensuring everyone has their NIN and properly registered.”
FG approves replacement policy on phone SIM for Nigerians
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has approved a replacement policy for subscribers, whose Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) may have been lost, stolen, misplaced or damaged.
Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, the Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Mr Kayode Adegoke of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), jointly made this known in a statement over the weekend in Abuja.
Adinde explained that the policy was part of the government’s efforts to reduce the burden on subscribers and simplify the exercise so as to enable telecommunications services to the public.
He said that the Ministerial Task Force, under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, had set up a Technical Committee, made up of representatives of the NCC, NIMC, The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), to facilitate the policy.
Similarly, the statement said the Minister had approved some conditions, based on recommendations of the Technical Committee, that required the subscriber to present a NIN, an effective verification of the NIN by NIMC, and adherence with the relevant Guidelines and Regulations of NCC, concerning SIM replacement.
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