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Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector

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…Rallies Stakeholders for Synergy, Evaluation on NDEPS

…As Danbatta says “NCC raised $563.1M for FG through 3.5GHz auction; 80 million Nigerians have broadband access

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Left-Right: Engr. Abubakar Ladan, Coordinating Director, Office of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMCoDE); Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami); and Prof.Muhammed Abubakar, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Galaxy Backbone at the FMCoDE retreat, that took place recently.

The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), has commended all the agencies in the communications and digital economy sector for being dedicated to the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, and urged them to work collaboratively and co-ordinately in order to achieve the Federal Government’s strategic objectives as articulated in NDEPS.

Pantami stated this at a retreat organized by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMoCDE) for senior management staff of the Ministry and all its agencies which commenced on March 31, 2022. The retreat was convened to evaluate the implementation of NDEPS in the context of what has been achieved, what needs to be achieved, and what processes should be emplaced to enhance the capacity of the Ministry and Agencies it superintends to mobilize all stakeholders to accomplish the objectives of NDEPS. The retreat took place at the Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA) Centre at Mambilla Barracks, Abuja.

Citing the most recent report of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Minister in his keynote and opening address told the forum that synergy among stakeholders in terms of co-operative posture, collaboration, coordination, deployment of social skills such as good listening skills, critical and analytical thinking, emotional intelligence, as well as project management and quality assurance skills, are central to organizational effectiveness, successes and the future of work, as projected by WEF. Pantami then urged all the agencies and their staff to challenge themselves to do more rather than think of themselves as competitors.

Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) addressing the participants
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, EVC of NCC.
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan, Head Online Media, NCC with Sumbo Olawaiye, Assistant Director, Universal Service Provision Fund
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Ayuba Shuaibu, Acting Executive Secretary, USPF; Philip Tunde Eretan Deputy Director Licensing and Authorisation, NCC; and Yakubu Musa, Special Assistant, Media to the EVC, NCC
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Fola Ango, Planning Research and Statistics Department, FMoCDE
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector

Also speaking at the retreat, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta asserted that the NCC has acted superlatively in implementing NDEPS and in the context of the vision of Federal Government and the supervision of the Ministry. Danbatta who made clearly methodical presentation that chronologically documented NCC accomplishments under each of the eight (8) pillars of NDEPS, cited 10 of the 16 regulations that have been instituted in giving expression to Government’s vision on developmental regulation, which is the first pillar of NDEPS.

These regulations were focused on Enforcement Processes, Lawful Interception, Quality of Service, Competition Practices, Licensing Regulations, and Universal Access and Universal Service among others.
Danbatta promised to also complete the review of the remaining soonest and activate their implementation. Danbatta, who used a triangulation method in contextualizing the achievement of NCC under the first pillar, itemized the guidelines, regulations, and policy development initiatives to discharge the burden of proof of NCC’s effectiveness in the regulation of ICT and digital economy sector through approaches that enabled development.

In implementing Digital Literacy and Skills, the second pillar, Danbatta also stated in his clearly explanatory presentation, that the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), set up by NCC in 2004, had trained 5,352 students through 49 institutions, provided educational training software to 398 secondary schools, and endowed 7 professorial chairs in various Nigerian universities across all the geopolitical zones.

Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Dr. Ibietan with the Director General, NIMC, Aliyu Aziz.
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Rita Emeka-Wachukwu, Assistant Director, Corporate Planning, Strategy and Risk Management, NCC with two participants
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Ibietan and Bamigboye
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Adebayo, Postmaster General; and Engr. Abdulrahman Adajah, representing Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director, NIGCOMSAT.

On Solid Infrastructure, the third pillar of NDEPS, Danbatta stated that broadband penetration as of December 2021 was 40.88 percent, thus enabling 80 million Nigerians to have access to broadband services.

To reinforce the intensity of NCC’s commitment to improving broadband penetration, the EVC declared to the forum that NCC has emplaced a process for the deployment of optic fiber cable using Infrastructure Companies (Infracos). Danbatta was emphatic that the licensed Infracos have been directed by the Commission to commence immediate rollout without recourse to counterpart funding because the license issued to them is independent of the counterpart funding agreement. The Infracos are expected to lay 38,296Km of fiber optic cable. Also, in keeping with Government’s directive through a Federal Executive Council decision of 2005, NCC has constructed 32 Emergency Communication Centres (EECs) in various states, and 32 of those have been activated and are operational. Prof. Danbatta also documented copiously in his presentation, Commission’s achievement in the other five pillar areas.

Dr. Armstrong Takang, an innovative and technology-for-development specialist, who presented the lead paper as a guest speaker, praised the Federal Government for concretely aligning ICT and digital economy with national economic imperatives. Additionally, he commended NCC for driving the necessary infrastructure purposely and strategically, and for its effectiveness in regulating the telecom sector.

Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Left-Right: Ladan, and Honourable Minister Pantami
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Adebayo, Postmaster General; and Engr. Abdulrahman Adajah, representing Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director, NIGCOMSAT.
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Left-Right: Director General, NIMC, Aliyu Aziz; Dr. Vincent Olatunji, National Commissioner/CEO of the Nigerian Data Protection Bureau; and Prof. Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Dr. Vincent Olatunji ; and Engr. Aziz, Director General NIMC

Takang, citing Lagos State and the Federal Capital Territory Administration as good models, Takang emphasized the correlates of adoption of technology or automation in economic growth and effective governance, crediting technology for improved internally-generated revenue in Lagos State. Takang recommended that Nigeria must link technology to specific programs that are impacting and sustainable. He also asserted that Nigeria needs to undertake pilots for projects that are planned for implementation and utilise the results of the pilots to scale up and for budgeting. Takang also bemoaned the human capital challenge in the ICT sector in Nigeria, insisting that at least 500,000 software engineers are required to redirect efforts for the effectiveness of the policy.

The Director overseeing the Office of the Permanent Secretary in FMoCDE, Engr. Abubakar Ladan, and the following CEOs of the other agencies in the Ministry also made presentations on their efforts and activities towards accomplishing the objectives of NDEPS: Mr. Ayuba Shuaibu, Acting Executive Secretary, Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF); Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director of Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), represented by Engr. Abdulrahman Adajah; Engr. Aliyu Aziz, Director General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC); Kachifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); Prof. Muhammed Abubakar, Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone Plc; Dr. Adebayo Adewusi, Postmaster General of the Federation and Managing Director, Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST); and Dr. Vincent Olatunji, National Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB). All the agencies and the Ministry were well represented at the retreat by at least 6 officers in the directorate cadre.

Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Dr. Augustine Nwaulune, Director Digital Economy, NCC with Dr.Omoniyi Ibietan, Head, Online Media,NCC
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
Engr. Bako Wakil, Director Technical Standards and Network Integrity, NCC;MT Head, Internal Audit, USPF; Babagana Digima, Team Lead, Nigeria Office for Developing the Indigenous Telecoms Sector (NODITS)
Pantami Commends Agencies In The Communications Sector
A staff of NITDA, Dr. Olatunji, Director General NDPB; and Babatunde Bamigboye, a staff of NDPB

The retreat will end on April 1, 2022.

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Danbatta Applauds Pantami’s Appointment As WISIS Chair

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NCC Releases Final Information Memorandum For Auction Of 3.5GHZ, Compile Responses To Stakeholders

…Hon. Minister has been playing in driving fundamental digital economy policies – Danbatta

Olushola Okunlade Writes


The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has congratulated the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, on his appointment as the Chairman of the 2022 World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Forum by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Danbatta described the choice of the Minister as chair of the Forum as a worthy recognition of Nigeria’s leadership role in the global digital economy ecosystem, noting that Nigeria has continued to hold a front-row seat in the promotion of information and communication technology (ICT) as a driving force for national development since the assumption of office of the Minister.

“On behalf of the Board, Management, and Staff of the Nigerian Communications Commission, I want to express our profound delight and congratulations to the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, on his well-deserved appointment by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to chair this year’s WSIS Forum”, Danbatta stated.

“The appointment did not surprise us at NCC, given the important role the Hon. Minister has been playing in driving fundamental digital economy policies, being implemented by agencies under his supervision, in order to boost the diversification policy of the Federal Government,” the EVC said.

“We are, therefore, happy to associate with the Minister on this feat, as it means greater recognition for Nigeria. The appointment is an indication that the world has continued to take notice of the giant strides of Nigeria’s digital economy under the supervision of the Minister.

The NCC will continue to do everything within its regulatory mandate to further support the Federal Government’s drive for ubiquitous, affordable, and accessible digital services across all nooks and crannies of the country,” Danbatta said.

Following consultations with various stakeholders, the ITU recently notified the Minister via a letter, of his appointment as the 2022 WSIS Chairman.

The ITU is orgainsing the WSIS 2022 Forum in collaboration with other agencies with the United Nations with a focus on “ICTs for Well-Being, Inclusion, and Resilience: WSIS Cooperation for Accelerating Progress on the SDGs”.

As has been noted elsewhere, the appointment of Prof. Pantami has given Nigeria, and indeed, the African continent, the unique role of coordinating the activities of the WSIS in its 20th year, following the WSIS Phase I meeting which took place in 2003.

The WSIS Forum 2022, which will be attended by several high-level stakeholders, including Cabinet Ministers from ITU countries, will serve as a key platform to discuss the role of ICTs as a means to bolster the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals targets. The discourse will take place in the context of the mechanism for follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UNGA Resolution A/70/1).

The WSIS Forum also provides an opportunity to track the achievements of WSIS Action Lines in collaboration with the UN Agencies involved and provides information and analysis on the implementation of WSIS Action Lines since 2005. The Forum aims at enhancing cooperation, partnership, innovation, exchange of experiences, and good practices in ICTs for sustainable development across the world.

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Hackers Can Unlock, Steal Your Vehicles, NCC Alerts Nigerians

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NCC Issues Final Letters Of Licence Awards To 5G Spectrum Winners

…Warns of vulnerability to new Android trojan apps

Olushola Okunlade Writes

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) wishes to alert telecom consumers and members of the public on an ongoing cyber-vulnerability that allows a nearby hacker to unlock vehicles, start their engines wirelessly, and make away with the cars.

The fact that car remotes are categorized as short-range devices that make use of radiofrequency (RF) to lock and unlock cars informed the need for the Commission to alert the general public of this emergent danger, where hackers take advantage to unlock and start a compromised car.

According to the latest advisory released by the Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), the Cybersecurity Centre for the telecom sector established by the NCC, the vulnerability is a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack or, more specifically, a replay attack in which an attacker intercepts the RF signals normally sent from a remote key fob to the car, manipulates these signals, and re-sends them later to unlock the car at will.

With this latest type of cyber-attack, it is also possible to manipulate the captured commands and re-transmit them to achieve a different outcome altogether. “Multiple researchers disclosed a vulnerability, which is said to be used by a nearby attacker to unlock some Honda and Acura car models and start their engines wirelessly. The attack consists of a threat actor capturing the radio frequency (RF) signals sent from your key fob to the car and resending these signals to take control of your car’s remote keyless entry system,” the advisory stated emphatically.

However, the NCC-CSIRT, in the advisory, has offered some precautionary measures or solutions that can be adopted by car owners to prevent falling victim to the attack.

According to the cyber-alert unit of the Commission, “When affected, the only mitigation is to reset your key fob at the dealership. Besides, the affected car manufacturer may provide a security mechanism that generates fresh codes for each authentication request, this makes it difficult for an attacker to ‘replay’ the codes thereafter. Additionally, vulnerable car users should store their key fobs in signal-blocking ’Faraday pouches’ when not in use.”
Importantly, car owners in the stated categories are advised to choose Passive Keyless Entry (PKE) as opposed to Remote Keyless Entry (RKE), which would make it harder for an attacker to read the signal due to the fact that criminals would need to be at close proximity to carry out their nefarious acts.

The PKE is an automotive security system that operates automatically when the user is in proximity to the vehicle, unlocking the door on approach or when the door handle is pulled, and also locking it when the user walks away or touches the car on exit. The RKE system, on the other hand, represents the standard solution for conveniently locking and unlocking a vehicle’s doors and luggage compartment by remote control.

Additionally, in a related advisory, the NCC, based on another detection by CSIRT, wishes to inform the general public about the resurgence of Joker Trojan-Infected Android Apps on the Google Play Store. This arose due to the activities of criminals who intentionally download legitimate apps from the Play Store, modify them by embedding the Trojan malware, and then upload the app back to the Play Store with a new name.

The malicious payload is only activated once the apps go live on the Play Store, which enables the apps to scale through Google’s strict evaluation process. Once installed, these apps request permissions that once granted, enable the apps to have access to critical functions such as text messages and notifications.

As a consequence, a compromised device will subscribe unwitting users to premium services, billing them for services that do not exist. A device like this can also be used to commit Short Messaging Service (SMS) fraud while the owner is unaware.

It can click on online ads automatically and even use SMS One Time passwords (OTPs) to secretly approve payments. Without checking bank statements, the user will be unaware that he or she has subscribed to an online service. Other actions, such as stealing text messages, contacts, and other device data, are also possible.

To avoid falling victim to the manipulation of hackers deploying Joker Trojan-Infected Android Apps, Android users have been advised to avoid downloading unnecessary apps or installing apps from unofficial sources. The NCC also wishes to advise telecom consumers to ensure that apps installed from the Google Play Store are heavily scrutinized by reading reviews, assessing the developers, perusing the terms of use, and only granting the necessary permissions.

Conclusively, the NCC recommends that unauthorized transactions be checked against any installed app. Indeed, any apps not in use should be deleted while users are also advised to ensure that a device is always patched and updated to the latest software.

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NCC, FIRS Inaugurate Joint Committee To Boost National Revenues In Telecoms Sector

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NCC, FIRS Inaugurate Joint Committee To Boost National Revenues In Telecoms Sector

Olushola Okunlade Writes

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) have taken their collaboration a notch further by setting up a Joint Committee of senior and management staff of the two agencies towards the implementation of inter-agency strategies for enhancing national revenues in the telecommunications sector.

The NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, inaugurated the 17-member committee on behalf of the Commission’s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, and the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Muhammad Nami, at the NCC’s Board Room in Abuja on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

NCC, FIRS Inaugurate Joint Committee To Boost National Revenues In Telecoms Sector
Group Picture of FIRS staff and NCC staff.
NCC, FIRS Inaugurate Joint Committee To Boost National Revenues In Telecoms Sector
Mrs. Ben-Obi; Mr. Irri; Barr Adewolu; and Mr. Nwokenneya.

The inauguration of the committee, comprising six officials of NCC and eleven officials of FIRS, was carried out with senior officials of NCC and those of the tax agency led by its Coordinating Director for Compliance Support Group, Dr. Dick Irri, who represented the FIRS’ Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami at the event.

While inaugurating the Committee on behalf of the heads of the two agencies, Adewolu stated that the terms of reference (ToR) of the Committee include: reviewing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the NCC and the FIRS on June 9, 2020; and carry out inter-agency interaction on the implementation of the NCC’s Revenue Assurance System (RAS), to ensure that it incorporates the needs of FIRS to the extent that RAS can remain the sole interface with telecom service providers’ networks vis-à-vis the Tax Authority’s information needs from the telecoms sector.

Given the Committee’s composition and the extensive experience and commitment of its members – which had informed their selection by the agencies – Adewolu stated that the management of NCC and the FIRS expected no less than an excellent output from the Committee, tasking them to work together harmoniously and in the overall national interest.

Also in his comments, Dr. Dick Irri, who led the FIRS delegation to the inauguration, advised the Committee to take the assignments very seriously. “I would like to task you to take this assignment as a national matter as we expect the two agencies to work in harmony, collaborate effectively, and have a warm handshake that will make this synergy between the two agencies a great example of collaboration between Federal Government agencies towards enhancing fiscal governance in Nigeria,” he said.

The decision to set up the Committee was one of the major outcomes of the meeting between the FIRS and the NCC on March 8, 2022, organized at the instance of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, to discuss the request by the FIRS for data and documents from the telecoms industry for enhancing national revenues from the sector.

NCC, FIRS Inaugurate Joint Committee To Boost National Revenues In Telecoms Sector
Left-Right: Dr. Dick Irri, Coordinating Director, Compliance Support Group, FIRS; and Barr Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.
NCC, FIRS Inaugurate Joint Committee To Boost National Revenues In Telecoms Sector
Left-Right: Mrs. Chiaka Ben-Obi, Group Lead, Digital and Innovation Support Group, FIRS; Irri; Adewolu; Mrs. Faozat Ogunniyi, Group Lead, Enforcement Support Group, FIRS; Mr. Ephraim Nwokenneya, Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, NCC; and Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, NCC.

The inauguration is a significant achievement, as it deepens the strategic collaboration between the two government agencies in the pursuit of their statutory objectives. It also vindicates the emphasis placed on achieving mutually-sustainable relationships with relevant stakeholders as detailed in both the NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP), 2020-2024, and the Strategic Vision (Implementation) Plan (SVP 2020-2025) as well as FIRS’ strategic framework.

The activities of the NCC and the FIRS are acknowledged as pivotal to the achievement of sustainable revenue and growth projections of the Federal Government. In this regard, the telecoms sector has sustained a relatively high contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the years – ending the fourth quarter of 2021 at 12.6 per cent.

Besides, the FIRS recently acknowledged that some telecom licensees contribute a significantly high percentage of total national tax revenue. It is expected that the Joint Committee will enable both organizations to further optimize revenues for the Federal Government from the telecoms, digital economy, and adjacent sectors of the economy.

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