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Danbatta Reels Out Achievements As Nigeria Hands Over WATRA Chairmanship To Republic Of Guinea

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Danbatta Reels Out Achievements As Nigeria Hands Over WATRA Chairmanship To Republic Of Guinea

…Tasks member states on increased collaboration

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Having successfully piloted the affairs of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) as Chairman in the last year, Nigeria has handed over the mantle of leadership of the Assembly to the Republic of Guinea.

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), who served Nigeria’s tenure as the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria’s national telecommunications regulatory authority, handed over to the newly elected Chairman of the Assembly, Sekou Oumar Barry, of the Republic of Guinea.

The handover ceremony was one of the major highlights of the recently-concluded 19th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of WATRA which took place in Conakry, Republic of Guinea. The AGM equally approved WATRA’s new Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2022-2024.

Barry, the new chairman, who will preside over the affairs of the Executive Council of WATRA for the next year, is the Director-General of the Telecommunication and Posts Regulatory Authority (ARPT) of the Republic of Guinea. The Assembly also elected the representatives of Mali and Sierra-Leone as 1st and 2nd Vice Chairmen respectively.

Danbatta Reels Out Achievements As Nigeria Hands Over WATRA Chairmanship To Republic Of Guinea
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, outgoing Chairman, West African Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA)/Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and Mr. Sekou Oumar Barry. Danbatta handed over to Mr. Barry, the new WATRA Chairman, during the 19th Annual General Meeting of the Assembly in Conakry, Republic of Guinea recently.

In his address at the event, Danbatta acknowledged the important role WATRA has been playing in creating policy, legal and regulatory frameworks for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the sub-region since the mid-1990s and commended the synergy among member states, which he noted has continued to provide an economic defense for member countries against global shocks, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Danbatta Reels Out Achievements As Nigeria Hands Over WATRA Chairmanship To Republic Of Guinea
Left-Right: Engr. Aliu Aboki, Executive Secretary, West African Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA); Mr. Sekou Oumar Barry, Director-General, Telecommunication and Posts Regulatory Authority (ARPT), Republic of Guinea/New WATRA Chairman; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Outgoing WATRA Chairman/Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Mr. Joseph Bell, Chairman, National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), Sierra-Leone; Mr. Daniel Kaitibi, Director-General, NATCOM, Sierra-Leone/1st Vice Chairman/WATRA; and Mr. Issiaka Habibou, Director, Authority for the Regulation of Telecommunications, Information and Communication Technologies and Posts (AMRTP), Mali, during the 19th Annual General Meeting of the Assembly in Conakry, the Republic of Guinea recently.
Danbatta Reels Out Achievements As Nigeria Hands Over WATRA Chairmanship To Republic Of Guinea
Left-Right: Mr. Adewale Adesanmi, Ag. Head, Finance, West African Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA); Engr. Aliu Aboki, Executive Secretary, WATRA; Rolake Olujimi, Manager, Corporate Planning, Strategy and Risk Management, NCC; Uzoamaka Okenna-Aguneche, Manager, Legal and Regulatory Services, NCC; Mr. Ibrahim Galadima, Head, International Affairs, NCC; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, outgoing WATRA Chairman/Executive Vice Chairman, NCC; Abisoye Wahab, Principal Manager, Financial Services, NCC; Mr. Shanono Abdullahi, Senior Manager, Special Duties, NCC, during the 19th Annual General Meeting of the Assembly in Conakry, Republic of Guinea recently.

In Nigeria, Danbatta said ICT currently contributes 17 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with an ambitious target of 20 per cent contribution over the next three years, stating that if one big regional market in which ICT policies and regulations are aligned is created, WATRA members can drive ICT investment and growth faster in their respective countries and collectively in the sub-region.

Danbatta recalled that he had worked closely with the Executive Secretary of WATRA, Aliu Aboki, and his team in the last 12 months to achieve a lot in the re-organization of WATRA’s internal governance and processes to make them more efficient and transparent. The EVC, thus, thanked the Executive Secretary and his team for the energy with which they had pursued the re-positioning task just as he commended the Executive Committee for the clarity of purpose with which they have spelled out these priorities.

Danbatta said some of his achievements as WATRA Chairman, include the delivery of a draft four-year strategic plan in line with the 18th AGM resolution, partial payment of long-outstanding membership dues by some member states after long periods of inactivity, deployment of the new WATRA automated Asset Management System, successful organization of various high-quality capacity building programs for members, optimization of WATRA accounting, finance, and budgeting process, as well as the institution of procedures for improved accountability, marked by the weekly financial dashboard.

The achievements recorded under Danbatta’s one-year chairmanship also include the deployment of an automatic external phone answer and routing system, completion of front-end and back-end development of the redesigned WATRA website, a joint development by WATRA, the Coordination Team, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission of a new organizational framework for roaming regulation implementation, reactivation of Niger participation in ECOWAS roaming regulation implementation through WATRA-ECOWAS Commission collaboration.

Other achievements of WATRA under Danbatta’s leadership include the re-translation of the WATRA constitution drafted and under review by Executive Committee, renewed engagements with ECOWAS on World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC) 2023 collaboration, joint conduct of the 2nd WRC2023 prep meeting, successful organization of the 2-day technical physical meeting in Abuja on fraud and roaming tariffs for ECOWAS regional roaming in collaboration with ECOWAS Commission, the kick-off of Digital Transformation of WATRA Operations and WATRA Operating Model review service being part of a $300,000 grant from the Nigerian government through NCC, Nigeria.

While congratulating Barry, as the new WATRA Chairman, Danbatta expressed the conviction that the new leadership will build on the modest achievements of the last year. “When members see the unique role that WATRA plays in easing the task of national regulators to adopt or fine-tune regulations through mutual learning and capacity building, they see more reason to engage and be active within WATRA. So, if we build on the modest achievements of the Assembly, the benefits will be with the region for decades,” he said.

He also stated that both at home or in the diaspora, West Africa has the talent to study the most efficient ICT regulations in the world and adapt them for the region’s purposes so that it can attract greater investment into the region and transform the economy of member states.  “What we have to do is to continue the work of building WATRA into a platform that seamlessly deploys these talents and capacity to the 16 member states. The gains to us are enormous,” Danbatta stated with patent conviction.

The EVC further assured his colleagues in  WATRA of his commitment to supporting the new leadership in all ways possible. “As I hand over to the incoming Chairman, please be assured of my continued support and that of the Nigerian Communications Commission and, indeed, the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to WATRA,” Danbatta said.

In his acceptance speech, Barry, who thanked Danbatta for making giant strides in the last 12 months, promised to work with the Executive Committee team and the Management Team to consolidate the achievements of the Assembly, and to ensure greater success of the Assembly for the future.

The 19th AGM was attended by the following14 of the 16 WATRA member states; Togo, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Nigeria, Niger Republic, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Republic of Guinea, The Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Burkina Faso, and the Benin Republic. Ghana and Liberia were absent from the meeting.

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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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