Telecoms

How NCC Fosters Healthy Associations to Enhance Telecoms Services

NCC and healthy associations
Prof Umar Danbatta, NCC, EVC

This will not be the first or last time the Nigeria Communication Commission [NCC] would initiate healthy connections with other agencies outside its coverage area in order to enhance the telecoms services and move the industry to a lofty height.

Already, the Commission has collaborated with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reduce the number of Nigerians who do not have access to financial services. This year the Commission also signed two landmark agreements with the Nigeria Postal Service [NIPOST] and Federal Inland Revenue Services [FIRS].

In February, the Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] with NIPOST. The aim is to strengthen service delivery and advance the digital economy agenda of the federal government.

In June, it signed another agreement with the FIRS to ensure that the tax agency verifies the correctness and completeness of value-added tax (VAT) elements and other taxes payable in the transactions of telecoms operators.

The Executive Vice Chairman, [EVC] of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta expressed the Commission’s readiness to support NIPOST with resilient telecom infrastructure that allows the postal agency to jointly contribute to increasing access to financial inclusion in the country.

He affirmed that one of the mandates of NIPOST is to deepen access to certain government services in all the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.

He stated that the Commission is committed to fostering synergy and strategic collaboration with relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the federal and state governments, especially with those sister agencies under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Prof Danbatta explained that the idea of the partnership is to work together to increase the financial inclusion penetration from 60 to 80 per cent by the end of 2020. He added that all agencies in the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy are expected to team up to deepen the frontier of digital services across Nigeria.

The Postmaster General of the Federation, Dr Ismail Adewusi elucidated that fostering close association and engagement between government agencies remains the NCC’s priority.

Adewusi clarified that the vision of NIPOST is to play the role of universal service postage and offer auxiliary services such as transportation logistics and financial services. Similarly, the mandate of the new Governing Board of NIPOST is at the frontiers of the services rendered.

According to Adewusi, the cooperation with the Commission with regard to internet connectivity and broadband penetration is necessary especially in the rural areas where Internet access is limited. He believed NCC and NIPOST should work together to expand access to the Internet, particularly in the rural communities where NIPOST has infrastructure.

Meanwhile, to execute the NCC and FIRS MoU, the tax agency will integrate its application programming interface (API) technology solution with the systems of telecom operators. This will enable the actualisation of independent verification of VAT payable by mobile network operators (MNO) instead of relying entirely on the operators’ books of accounts.

Prof. Danbatta enlightened that the MoU is in line with NCC’s inter-agency collaboration. He indicated that due diligence and appropriate processes were undertaken to conclude the MoU even as the Commission study the import of the agreement.

He updated that the Commission’s concern, as telecoms regulator is that “we needed to be sure that it is not another way to tax telecoms operators who are already dealing with multiple taxation issues. We have also ensured that the integration of the solutions with telcos’ transactions systems will not, in any way, impact the cost and quality of service delivery by the Operators to telecoms consumers.”

He assured telecoms consumers and stakeholders that the integration of FIRS solution with the operators’ systems is to ascertain the accuracy of the VAT elements being paid by the operators and will not, in any way, degrade the quality of service delivery or lead to the high cost of service to the consumers.

The Executive Chairman and CEO of FIRS, Muhammad Nami declared that the MoU is mainly to ascertain the completeness of tax transactions of mobile service providers to the federal government due to the shift of physical businesses to electronic-based business activities. These liaisons are elixir to the telecoms industry and should be encouraged.