The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has embarked on a regulatory step to sensitize the industry about the need for proper and continuous risk identification with the view to managing such risks before they affect the health of the industry.
The Commission, in line with the initiative, hosted a two-day maiden conference at its headquarters in Abuja, where its Executive Vice Chairman, Professor Umar Danbatta, said it has become imperative to minimize risks in the industry to ensure that services are not disrupted, and that consumers obtain the best services that are globally available.
The conference with the theme: “Nigerian Telecommunications Industry: Managing the Emerging Risks and Embracing Risk Opportunities,” called for collaboration between the regulator and other stakeholders in the industry, to achieve multi-stakeholder strategies aimed at identifying and addressing emerging risks in the telecommunications sector to ensure sustainable and impacting growth.
Director of Policy, Competition and Economic Analysis, Yetunde Akinloye, who stood for the EVC, said the essence of the forum was to examine myriads of issues that challenge the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, and to enhance the development of a sustainable ICT sector in Nigeria.
“The focus of this conference is to bring to the fore the ever-rising uncertainties in the global economy and the attendant regulatory/operational risks in the areas of increased data security regulations, new partnerships and transforming business models, fast-changing mix of mounting capital expenditure (CAPEX) burdens, shifting market structures, newly emerging disruption scenarios, regulatory and policy challenges amongst others,” Danbatta said.
The Executive Vice Chairman told participants at the event, which also featured virtual participation, that the Commission has been at the forefront of ensuring that the telecoms industry is not adversely impacted by these uncertainties/risks.
He said that one of the Strategic Visions is to ensure a competitive market for the communications services that foster fair inclusion of all players, promote local content and innovative services in ways that facilitate new investment, job creation and consumer satisfaction.
Professor Danbatta said that the NDEPS is the guiding document for the Federal Government’s activities to maximise the immense opportunities that are inherent in digital technologies to nudge the diversification of Nigeria’s economy and attain the key national objectives of improving security, reducing corruption, and expanding the economy.
“While risk management has been critical in our regulatory service delivery, we acknowledge that all stakeholders must be concerned about the varied uncertainties that confront the Industry. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Information and Communication Technologies Sector is inherently filled with several business and technology risks,” Danbatta said.
“It is, therefore, important that regulatory risks be minimised to ensure that services are not disrupted, and consumers obtain the best and latest services that are globally available. The Commission in a bid to ensure that operators in the industry enjoy a conducive operating environment has had cause to seek government interventions and collaborate with other Agencies of Government in addressing major sectoral risks.
“These risks include cybersecurity and online fraud, regulatory burden, multiple taxation, vandalism of telecommunication infrastructure, right of way challenges, access to foreign exchange, inter-industry indebtedness, among others,” he said.
In his paper presentation titled ‘X-raying Telecommunications Risk Radar: The Operators’ Perspective’, a facilitator at the event, who spoke to issues of concern to operators, Eniola Olugboyega, said that risk-taking can have positive or negative impact on businesses. He also stated that most common losses from improper management of risk in the sector include customer dissatisfaction, fines and litigation, product failure, and loss of business opportunities, among others.
According to him, effective risk management aids effective decision making, prevents financial and reputational loss and addresses potential threats. Thus, telecommunication risk from the operators’ perspective includes regulatory risk, insecurity, data breach risk, foreign exchange risk, rising CAPEX risk, human resource risk, and the inability to take advantage of new business models.