News Telecommunications

Expert Calls for Fortification of Nigerian Communications Act 2003

Emma Okonji

ICT Legal and Regulatory expert, Mr. Ayoola Babatunde Oke, has stressed the need for additional input that will further strengthen the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA 2003), to enable it address new trends in today’s digital world.

Although he commended the responsiveness and transparency of the Act, he however said technology had evolved over the years and that the Act needed to be fortified in line with new trends.

Oke, who was the Special Assistant to the former Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC, Dr. Earnest Ndukwe, said the provisions of the Act remained fair while vesting regulatory powers in Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), adding that it also imposes obligations on NCC to be judicious and fair, without acting arbitrarily in its roles.

Oke made the call, while speaking at a recent annual workshop organised by NCC and National Judicial Institute (NJI) for Judges, with the theme: “Developing Telecommunications Law: Jurisprudence and Judicial Precedents- An X-Ray of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003.”

He explained that the Act provides for regulatory professionalism in the constitution of the Board of the Commission which is a Governing Board made up of all three Executive Commissioners and three Non-executive Commissioners.

According to him, “the Act contains mandatory provision for consultation on policy and regulatory decisions and provides for NCC to be accountable to stakeholders.

He noted that in strengthening the concept of separation of powers, the Act may be further empowered to make the Governing Board of the Commission to have the exclusive right in the exercise of the Commissions quasi-judicial powers, while the management would be the executory organ.”

The Nigerian Communications Act 2003, he added, should be deepened to protect the local and small operators.

“In the telecommunications sector, it is almost as if the regulation favours the big operators more than the small operators, which is one of the reasons why the small operators are dying without meaningful impact on the country’s economy. It is therefore important to protect the small telecommunication companies to enable them exist side by side with the big operators,” Oke said.

Making comparison between the Act of 1992 and that of 2003, Oke said the NCC was yet to fully implement the 2003 Act, adding that it is already affecting the effectiveness of the regulatory framework.

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