Why Danbatta Emerged Winner of Vanguard’s Regulator of Year 2022

Prof. Danbatta

Since his appointment as the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has been on the radar of the telecoms industry in Nigeria with many critical stakeholders of the industry, even across Africa beaming their search light on his leadership style and how far he can achieve the mandate given him by the Nigerian Government.


Obviously, these critical stakeholders, are aware of the role of telecommunications in sustaining a digital economy, and more especially that the world today is a global village due to the impact of telecoms and ICT.

And as such, a renowned critical stakeholder, the media due to its role as the watchdog of the society has been closely watching him.

After an assessment by the Business Intelligence Team of the Vanguard Personality of the Year Award, Prof Danbatta at the 11th Edition was honoured with the Regulator of the Year Award.

The award was conferred on him in recognition of his effective regulatory achievements through cutting-edge initiatives, especially during his first five years in office, a period when Nigeria’s telecom sector experienced spectacular landmarks.

According to Vanguard Newspaper Limited, his initiatives strengthened the role of the telecommunications sector as a major contributor to the growth of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as telecoms investment inflows from $36 billion in 2015 to over $70 billion.

Director, Public Relations, Huawei, Lola Fafore; Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Garba Danbatta and the District Head of Makoda, Kano State, Mr Labaran Abdullahi.

Danbatta also spearheaded a campaign to improve Nigeria’s broadband penetration from the paltry five percent at the time of his appointment to about 30% in 2018. The EVC is currently among those leading the charge for the realisation of the new national broadband penetration target of 70 percent by 2025 since his reappointment in office in 2020.

Further reflections on his leadership at the NCC, revealed lucid achievements that he had recorded since 2015 when he was made the head of the Commission.

The telecoms industry in Nigeria has today currently been driven by a 8-Point Agenda, a product of the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 1, whose diligent implementation has significantly improved the growth of the sector and the sector’s contribution to national GDP from 2015 till date.

Specifically, the SVP has facilitated broadband penetration, improve quality of service, optimize usage and brought to the frontline of the industry the benefits of spectrum, while at the same time promoting ICT innovation and investment opportunities.

He later went on to introduce the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2 as a follow-up and based on the need to take the Commission to greater heights, which was unveiled on September 7, 2021, and designed to cover the period of 2021-2025.

Available statistics from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistic, (NBS), showed that under his leadership watch, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry contributed 18.94% to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2022.

Prof Danbatta

From this, telecommunications sector alone currently contributed 15% to GDP as of second quarter, 2022 up from 8.5% in 2015 when Danbatta came on board.

Danbatta has also been able to achieve landmarks in the active telecom subscribers’ base of the country, growing it significantly to 218.6 million from about 400,000 aggregate telephone lines in the country as of 2000, on the eve of liberalisation.

This represents a teledensity of 14.7 per cent. Basic Internet subscriptions grew from zero ground to 152.9 million currently while broadband subscriptions stand at over 88.2 million, representing a 46.24 per cent penetration as of November, 2022.

Before he became the EVC in 2015, the nation’s telecoms investment flow was less than $500 million in 2001, but soon after the investment profile in the nation’s telecommunications sector hit $38 billion in 2015 and has further surpassed $70 billion.

Beyond bring investors he took pains to improve the active telecoms subscribers base by growing it significantly to reach 208 million from about 400,000 aggregate telephone lines in the country as at 2000.

This represents a teledensity of 109.47%. Basic Internet subscriptions grew from zero ground to 152 million while broadband subscriptions stand at 85 million, representing a 44.49% penetration as at July 2022.

And to further deepen broadband penetration, Danbatta unveiled what is today known as Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo) to deploy broadband infrastructure, on a wholesale basis, in the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria and he has successfully increased its numbers to meet the telecoms needs of the nation.

He increased the number of licensed InfraCos from 2 in 2015 to six.

Prof. Danbatta presenting the Award letter to Prof. Ejikechukwu Anene of Abubakar Tafawa Balawe University

Through his efforts, the country experienced a reduction in the cost of data by well over 75% from $11.15 in mid-2014 to $2.78 at the end of 2019, a study by Research ICT Africa’s (RIA’s) 1GB Basket Statistics revealed.

The average cost of data has come down to around N500 from N1000 per Gigabyte of data because most operators now offer 2GB of data for N1000.

A quick check showed that the NCC, under Danbatta’s foresight and leadership, saw revenue generated by the Commission move between 2015 and early 2020, so that the Commission remitted N344.71 billion to Federal Government’s CRF from spectrum fees and operating surplus.

The NCC, under Prof. Danbatta, also embarked on spectrum auctions, re-planning, re-farming to optimise the usage of the scarce resource, especially as facilitated by the SVP 2015-2020 and in the SVP 2021-2025.

On quality of service, the leadership of NCC under him, consistently addressed effective monitoring of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for 3G and 4G to enhance quality of service experience for telecoms consumers.

The NCC, under Prof. Danbatta, created the Research and Development Department (R&D) of the Commission in 2016 in order to synchronise the various ongoing research activities and other development projects being carried out by the Commission; to promote innovations in the industry.

So far it has committed over N500 million into R&D between 2016 and 2022 while making provision for research grants to the academia, startups and as well as the endowment of professorial chairs to drive innovations and local contents development in the telecoms sector.

L-R: Executive Secretary,ATCON, Ajibola Olude; Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta and ATCON President, Olusola Teniola

A another key factor observed in his achievement was the promotion of financial inclusion by encouraging the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to actively participate in providing financial services towards actualizing FG’s 80% financial inclusion target.

NCC is promoting the deployment of telecommunications/broadband infrastructure required for ensuring seamless digital financial services in the country, all thanks to Danbatta.

Besides all that Prof Danbatta has been recognized for the role he played in the Reduction of Right of Way cost to fast-track telecoms infrastructure deployment, Strengthening Industry Corporate Governance, Development of ‘Service Delivery Timeliness’ in NCC’s effort to implement the Executive Order (EO) 001 of 2017 as well as strengthening industry corporate governance.

For all these, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) ranked the NCC as a Ethically-Compliant Regulatory Agency.

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