The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has advocated for adoption of Public Private Partnership (PPP) model to develop resilient infrastructure, regulations, investment, and policy that will advance Nigerian digital ecosystem.
Danbatta while delivering a keynote address at a panel session during the 2021 virtual conference and exhibition on Information Communication Technology & Telecommunications (ICTEL) organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), from Tuesday, July 27 – Wednesday, July 28, 2021, said that PPP has become one of the commonly used model of collaboration among stakeholders to fast track socioeconomic development at all levels.
Speaking on the sub-theme, “Exploring Public Private Collaboration for a Robust Digital Infrastructure, Regulations, Investment and Policy”, he said, “The concept of Public Private Partnership has become one of the commonly used model of collaboration among stakeholders to fast track socioeconomic development whether at the global, regional and national levels. In April 2017, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) signed a Joint Declaration in Geneva, “on the advancement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), in particular industrialization, infrastructure development and innovation”. The UNIDO and ITU, driving innovation in ICTs together with 193 Member States and over 700 private sector entities and academic institutional membership, planned to strengthen country-level collaborations”.
He noted that adequate and functioning infrastructure is key to development and stressed that meeting future challenges calls for the application of PPP in all sectors of the Nigerian economy.
“Suffice it to say that, the role of public-private partnership in infrastructure development in Nigeria cannot be over emphasised because an adequate, robust, and functioning infrastructure is the bedrock of communal and societal development. Therefore, to meet future challenges, our industries and infrastructure must be upgraded by evolving an enduring PPP model that services all the sectors of the economy. Objectively, the high level of infrastructure deficit and its attendant effect on socio-economic development in Nigeria explains government’s concern and search for an alternative means of providing infrastructure for Nigeria’s teeming population”.
Danbatta emphasised that telecom industry is the most important sector that PPP should be adopted considering its role in other sectors.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, if the telecom and ICT sector is the real ‘Infrastructure of infrastructure’ as it is often referred to because of its impact, efficiency and effectiveness on the growth of other sectors, it stands to reason, that the telecom sector is the most important sphere PPP should be adopted. Interestingly, a 2012 World Bank report already documented how public-private partnership (PPP) projects have been used to provide broadband access nationally, regionally, or in rural areas to improve broadband access to unserved and underserved locations.
“In a concrete expression of belief in the centrality of PPP principles, the NCC, in November 2020, created a ‘PPP Unit’ as a division under its Special Duties Department. The Unit is overseeing the implementation of the NCC’s revenue assurance solutions (RAS) as well as the Device Management System (DMS) project. The two projects are being implemented in collaboration with private sector players. While the RAS is intended to address the revenue leakages accruable to the government, through the NCC; the DMS is intended to address the issue of type approval of telecom equipment and devices to ensure originality and standardisation because of the implication of substandard devices for health and quality of service. The DMS is also instituted to tackle the problem of SIM boxing and call masking, which not only constitutes threat to national security but also a mark of anti-competitive practice in the telecoms sector and a basis for loss of revenue in tax remittances to the government”.