On Tuesday, the Senate approved N559,080,711,000 as the fiscal budget for the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to drive continuous growth in the telecommunications industry.
There are several examples of this telecommunication growth in Africa. In South Africa, the wireless telecommunication services market grew by 7.5 per cent in 2021, reaching a value of $7.2 billion.
In Egypt, the market grew by 16.5 per cent that same year to a value of $4.4 billion. In Nigeria, it grew by over 20 per cent, reaching a value of $7.4 billion.
Today, the sector is contributing N70 billion to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, according to the National Bureau of Statistics recent data.
Following the presentation by the Committee on Communications, the lawmaker representing Yobe South, Ibrahim Bomai, who laid and presented the reports, stated that the NCC 2023 budget of N559.080 billion was made up of total recurrent expenditure of N86.7 billion, capital expenditure of N5.2 billion, and special projects of N35 billion.
At the committee budget defense to the joint National Assembly, Executive Secretary of Nigeria Communications Commission, Professor Umar Danbatta explained that the 2023 budget anticipated the deployment of 5G, which would offer greater network flexibility and translate into improved quality of service and quality of experience for consumers. He said these would ultimately lead to an increase in revenue for network operators and the government.
The fiscal allocation is pioneered on the Commission’s expected N416 billion revenue generation to be transferred to the Federal Government Consolidated Revenue Fund.
As experts prospects on the areas in dire need of interventions within the sector, Nigerians expect nothing less than a prudent utilization of the Commission’s 2023 budget to revitalise the telecoms ecosystem.
In perspective, NCC’s 2023 budgetary allocation outnumbered that of all the state governments except Lagos, Akwa Ibom and Delta.
The Commission’s budget is bigger than that of Nasarawa, Plateau and Kogi States in the North Central.
In the 2023 fiscal year, the budget of Nasarawa is N149.9.bn, Kogi 172bn, Plateau 139.3bn, Niger N238bn and Benue N179.750bn.
In the South-South region, NCC’s 2023 budget exceeded each State’s budget except that of Delta and Akwa Ibom.
Edo, N320.35bn, Beyalsa N385.2bn, Rivers N550.06bn, Delta N561.8bn; Akwa Ibom, N697bn, Cross River, N330bn as 2023 budget.
In another light, no State in South Eastern Nigeria has a budget more significant than that of NCC. For instance, Enugu, N166.6bn, Imo N474bn; Abia, N157bn, Ebonyi N139bn.
NCC’s budget is half the budget of Lagos State, while outnumbering the 2023 budget allocation of States in the South-West. Lagos N1.8trillion, Oyo N310bn, Ekiti N110.6bn, Osun N138bn, Ondo N272.7bn.
An adequate fiscal budgetary allocation is critical to every government agency and parastatal. No doubt, in the past six years, NCC has played a crucial role in improving the country’s Gross Domestic Product via the foresighted leadership of the Executive Vice Chairman, EVC Prof Umar Danbatta and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami. Yet, this next year’s budget should double the achievements.
Specifically, it is important that the Commission devotes a large chunk of its capital expenditure of N5.2 billion and N35 billion to special projects towards improving telecom access in underserved communities.
Also, research development should be a priority for the Commission, especially with the emerging cyber threats and risks. Here, NCC needs to go all out to bridge the disconnect between academics and the industry.
Similarly, NCC should strengthen its regulatory framework to drive effective telecom policy implementation. To this end, NCC cannot fail to achieve the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025.