Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, at the weekend in Abuja, promised to use technology to run criminal elements in the country out of their illicit trade.
This was even as he blamed the widespread connectivity challenges experienced by telecommunications subscribers across the country during the economic COVID-19 lockdown on the huge infrastructure deficit in the industry.
Speaking on the theme “Better Communications Sector Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” at a briefing to flag off his second term in office as Chief Executive of the NCC, Danbatta said the Commission would scale up continuous SIM registration audit to provide security and curtail incidences of banditry, kidnappings and armed robbery now gaining momentum in parts of the country.
Against this backdrop, he said priority attention would be given to the completion and commissioning of Emergency Communication Centres (ECCs) in states not yet covered to further enhance security and provide relief to citizens in distress situations.
His response came against the backdrop of the rising incidence of criminality and identity theft especially in the financial services sector of the economy as well as violent crimes like banditry and kidnapping being perpetrated against law abiding citizens.
He said the Commission would be working in conjunction with law enforcement agencies and the Central Bank of Nigeria to audit and update its SIM Swap guidelines to ensure that criminals do not utilise gaps in banks or mobile telecommunications service providers’ security architecture to swindle unsuspecting customers.
Giving reasons for some of the connectivity glitches experienced by most subscribers during the COVID-19 lockdowns, he said they were a clear indication that Nigeria needed to scale up its investments in communication infrastructure.
According to him, it was in an effort to urgently fill the yawning facility gaps that the Federal Government had commenced the review of guidelines for the licensing of six approved infrastructure companies ahead of their commencement ofbusiness.
“The Commission had licensed six infrastructure companies and was on the verge of licensing the seventh one for the Northeast before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.” He said.
With the increasing use of online technology in periods of lockdown and social distancing, Danbatta said there was no better time to invest in infrastructure companies licenses than now.
On broadband, penetration, the NCC boss said the Commission has driven penetration from six percent in 2015 which handled a meager 1.5 megabits of data to 42.02 percent at the end of 2019, adding that the target in NCC’s 2020-2025, was to attain 70 percent penetration, which would be strong enough to serve 90 percent of Nigerian population, against which the ICT sector’s contribution to the nation’s GDP has risen to over 14 percent at the end 2019.“Our target is to attain 25 megabits penetration per second by 2025 from 1.5 megabits for urban areas in 2015, and 10 megabits per second penetration in the rural areas.