The federal government has approved a review of the NCC Act 2003 to clarify the separate regulatory roles of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Information Technology policy development and implementation roles of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
This decision follows recent conflicts between NCC and NITDA regarding industry regulations that threatened the telecom sector’s contribution to the national GDP. The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has confirmed the review of the NCC Act 2003. The NCC has completed the first and second drafts of the review and submitted them to the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, for approval.
This review is aimed at resolving conflicts and overlaps in roles between NCC and NITDA to ensure they can coexist smoothly without role-related friction. The final draft of the NCC Act will be released soon. The NCC Act 2003, signed into law in 2003, grants regulatory authority to the NCC in overseeing the Nigerian communications industry and implementing telecommunications policy.
However, it is currently under review due to the proposed NITDA Bill, which aims to transform NITDA from a development agency into a regulatory agency for Information Technology Systems and Practices. This change would create potential overlap with the existing regulator, leading to the need for clarifications and adjustments in roles and responsibilities.
Concerned about the potential for regulatory conflicts between NCC and NITDA, industry stakeholders strongly opposed the NITDA Bill and appealed to the National Assembly to abandon it, as they believed it didn’t align with their interests. Despite passing the first and second readings in the Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on ICT and Cyber Security, the bill didn’t receive former President Muhammadu Buhari’s signature before he left office on May 29, 2023.
Industry stakeholders were dissatisfied with the proposed NITDA Bill, citing a lack of consideration for their inputs and interests. The former President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Adesina Sodiya, urged the National Assembly to drop the bill, emphasizing that it did not reflect the contributions made by industry stakeholders during a NITDA-organized stakeholders’ meeting. This dissatisfaction led to concerns about the bill’s potential impact on the industry.
Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of ALTON, voiced concerns that the NITDA Bill, if enacted, could have disrupted the telecoms sector, which has been a major contributor to Nigeria’s GDP growth and broadband penetration. He called for a swift review of the NCC Act to clearly establish NCC as the sole telecoms regulator, highlighting its significant role in fostering the growth of the industry and the Nigerian economy.