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NCC Doles Out N500m For Research In Nigerian Universities

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NCC Doles Out N500m For Research In Nigerian Universities

Olushola Okunlade Writes

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has committed over N500 million to the Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions across the country to facilitate research and innovations to promote developments in the Nigerian telecommunications industry.

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta who disclosed this at a two-day Regional Roundtable with Academia, Industry, and Other Stakeholders which ended in Kano at the weekend, said the funds have been committed to research grants to universities and tertiary institutions, including professorial chairs in the universities in salient areas to drive technology development.

Danbatta said the Commission is now focused on supporting the academia in the commercialisation of the prototypes from these innovative researches as this is relevant to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy’s policy towards achieving indigenous technology for sustainable development of our country.

NCC Doles Out N500m For Research In Nigerian Universities
Left-Right: Mr. Ismail Adedigba, Director, Research and Development, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Dr. Caroline Alenoghena, Director, Entrepreneurship Centre, Federal University of Technology, Minna; Mr. Abdulrahman Ado, Executive Director, 9Mobile; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC; Engr. Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC; Prof. Kabiru Bala, Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, during the Regional Roundtable with Academia, Industry and other Stakeholders hosted by the Commission in Kano recently.

He said the roundtable organized by the Commission was to provide the necessary platform to support the commercialisation of locally-developed telecommunications innovations that NCC has been sponsoring.

“The Commission collaborates with the Academia in maximising the contributions of tertiary institutions to innovations and sustainable development of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry as finance is needed to drive the possible success of these endeavours, ” Danbatta said.

Danbatta said these efforts have enabled the Commission to contribute to national efforts to ensure overall growth of the industry and create wealth for innovators, saying all these are fundamental to the objective of the NCC’s R&D-oriented programs.

On the basis of these, he said ideas, inventions, and improvements that emanate from academia are required by the industry for improved efficiency and productivity.

Danbatta said appreciable impacts had been achieved since the Commission reinvigorated research grants for telecommunications-based research innovations from Nigerian academics, focusing on the successful commercialisation of locally developed solutions to foster and deepen the uptake of indigenous technology by Nigerians.

NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Engr Ubale Maska, also disclosed that the Commission has so far awarded 49 telecom-based research grants to the academia out of which 10 prototypes were successfully developed and displayed to industry stakeholders.

He said the R&D efforts of the Commission were aimed at actualising some of the 8-point Pillar Eight of National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2020-2030, focusing on Indigenous Content Development and Adoption.

The event, which featured a series of panel session discussions, particularly focusing on sub-themes that addressed the overarching theme of the stakeholder’s forum from different perspectives, drew participants from the academia, telecoms industry stakeholders, financial services sector, and other critical sectors or the economy.

Participants deliberated on understanding commercialisation and entrepreneurial model within the university and industry perspectives as well as brainstormed on investment/ funding opportunities for prototype development, sustainability and the sale of new products in the market place.

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3.5GHz Spectrum Auction: NCC Announces Publication Of Final Information Memorandum

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3.5GHz Spectrum Auction: NCC Announces Publication Of Final Information Memorandum

By Moninuola Sulaiman

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced the adoption and publication of the final version of the Information Memorandum (IM) to guide the upcoming auction of the remaining lots of the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) Spectrum for the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) services in Nigeria.

Earlier, the Commission had published a daft IM and requested stakeholders to make comments and inputs into the document to enrich its contents.

Subsequently, stakeholders’ comments were collated and discussed at a Stakeholder’s Engagement forum hosted by the Commission on November 15, 2022, at Marriot Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, on the same subject.

All comments have been considered and a final Information Memorandum to guide the upcoming auction is now available on the Commission’s website (www.ncc.gov.ng) with the link: https://www.ncc.gov.ng/media-centre/public-notices/1297-public-notice-final-im-3-5ghz-spectrum-band-2022.

The Commission requests all stakeholders to check public notices in the dailies and visit the website to study and review the final IM.

In 2019, the Southern Swamp Associated Gas Solutions project was commissioned, and the SPDC JV is planning to reduce associated gas flaring further through its Forcados Yokri gas-gathering project, of which large parts are set to be completed in 2022. Despite such efforts to reduce continuous flaring, unfortunately flaring intensity (the amount of gas flared for every tonne of oil and gas produced) at both SPDC- and SNEPCo-operated facilities increased in 2021 owing to short-term operational issues. Flaring from SPDC-operated facilities increased by around 5% in 2021 compared with 2020. The increase was primarily because of the extended outage of the gas compression system in SPDC’s shallow-water operations. The system was restored and became operational from January 2022. Flaring at SNEPCo-operated facilities rose by around 160% in 2021 compared with 2020. This was mainly because of an increase in flaring on the Bonga floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel. Repairs to a flex-joint on the Bonga FPSO’s gas export riser in the second quarter took longer than expected, in part because of weather conditions. While repairs were under way, the FPSO continued to produce oil and therefore flaring was necessary for safety reasons. The repairs were safely concluded in July 2021. Although flaring intensity levels rose in 2021, SPDC and SNEPCo over the last 10 years have almost halved the combined amount of hydrocarbons they flare from 1.5 million tonnes in 2012 to 0.8 million tonnes in 2021. This reduction is the result of a strict flaring reduction management process and both SPDC and SNEPCo will continue to work in close collaboration with joint-venture partners and the government to make progress towards ending routine flaring of associated gas. NIGERIA LNG EXPANSION UNDERWAY Global demand for LNG continues to grow as the world increasingly seeks reliable supplies of lowercarbon energy. Shell’s investment in Nigeria’s gas infrastructure for export is expected to help 6 This is according to a data provided by global research and consultancy business Wood Mackenzie. the country benefit further from revenues. Shell Gas B.V. and its partners took a final investment decision in 2020 on a new LNG processing unit – known as Train 7 -- at NLNG. The expansion is expected to create around 12,000 jobs for Nigerians during construction and stimulate growth of the local oil and gas service sector, with 55% of engineering and procurement of goods and services being sourced in-country. Train 7 is expected to ensure Nigeria’s continued place as a global player in a lower-carbon energy source. Once operational, Train 7 will add around 8 million tonnes per annum of capacity to the Bonny Island LNG facility, taking the total production to around 30 million tonnes per annum. In 2021, NLNG began awarding procurement and construction contracts. Early works started at the site. The first phase of the worker village is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2022 and the new material offloading facility ready for use by the end of 2022. NLNG’s Train 7 is expected to come onstream in the middle of the 2020s. KEY LICENCE RENEWED FOR DEEP-WATER SNEPCo has interests in four deep-water blocks in the Gulf of Guinea, two of which it operates. Today, nearly one-third of Nigeria’s deep-water oil and gas production comes from the Bonga and the nonoperated Erha fields.6 Since production began in 2005, Bonga alone has produced more than 950 million barrels of oil with the 2021 average oil production per day at 105,000 barrels. The Bonga FPSO vessel has a total production capacity of 225,000 barrels of oil per day and 150 standard cubic feet of gas export per day. In 2021, the availability of the FPSO vessel increased to 80% from 70% in 2020. In addition to Bonga, SNEPCo’s exploration activities have led to several significant discoveries of oil and gas over the last two decades, including the Bolia and Doro fields (Shell interest 55%). Nigeria Briefing Notes Helping to power Nigeria’s economy 13 In the right investment climate, SNEPCo believes that there are opportunities to expand. In 2021 the OML 118 (Bonga) production sharing contract was renewed and the lease extended for 20 years. Bonga North and Bonga South West Aparo (BSWA) oil fields are two such potential opportunities. Bonga North is a proposed tie-back project to the existing Bonga FPSO with Phase 1 comprising 14 wells. BSWA is a development of a new FPSO with Phase 1 comprising 23 wells. SUPPORTING RENEWABLE ENERGY STARTUPS Millions of Nigerians are excluded from the country’s power grid and Shell Companies in Nigeria have established and provided substantial funding for a not-for-profit, impact-investing company called All On. Operating as an independent company, All On works to bring reliable electricity – often from renewable energy sources -- to off-grid urban and rural customers. This support aims to build a solid pipeline of viable businesses that can create the scale required to address Nigeria’s access to energy gap. In December 2019, SPDC and SNEPCo made a significant additional 10-year financing commitment of $160 million in All On, bringing the total commitment to $200 million. By the end of 2021, All On had provided investment capital to over 40 renewable energy start-ups in its portfolio – an increase of more than 30% from 2020. One such company is Infibranches Technologies Limited, to which All On has committed $2 million, which is expected to enable the indigenous technology company to expand sales of solar home systems via its more than 13,000 agent banking partners across Nigeria. With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, the All On Hub was established in 2020 to provide nonfinancial support and build the capabilities of off-grid energy entrepreneurs. In 2021, the hub supported 81 ventures – nearly double the 41 supported in 2020. Also in 2021, All On, Odyssey Energy Solutions and the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet launched a $10 million equipment financing facility as part of the DART pilot programme in Nigeria. 7 Hydraulic flying leads support the delivery of hydraulic fluid and/or chemicals between subsea equipment. 8 Subsea trees are an assembly of valves and other components used to monitor and control the production of a subsea well. DART will combine demand pooling, aggregated purchasing of solar equipment, and access to affordable finance to unlock economies of scale for solar companies, achieve cost savings for end-users, and accelerate the growth of the renewable energy sector in Nigeria and beyond. DEVELOPING LOCAL CONTENT AND SKILLS Shell Companies in Nigeria contribute to the growth of Nigerian businesses that can provide technical and support services to the industry. This includes the manufacture of tools and technical kits, the operation of helicopter flights in the Niger Delta, and strategic partnerships between foreign and local companies to stimulate technology transfer and capacity development. While there are government-required programmes in some areas, such as the Nigerian and Community Content Strategy embedded in the Assa North/Ohaji South gas development project, Shell Companies in Nigeria deliberately seek to contract local businesses wherever possible. In 2021, Shell Companies in Nigeria awarded $800 million worth of contracts to Nigerian-registered companies. Of these, 92% were companies with at least 51% Nigerian ownership. SNEPCo has awarded major engineering and construction contracts to companies that are indigenous, have local staff, or possess domestic capabilities in the country. At present, the manufacture and rebuild of hydraulic flying leads7 (HFLs) is being carried out in-country by wholly indigenous companies. Pressure Controls Systems Nigeria Limited, another Nigerian company, continues to refurbish old subsea trees.8 Sometimes, a lack of access to capital hinders Nigerian companies from competing for and executing contracts effectively. Shell Companies in Nigeria have provided access to nearly $1.6 billion in loans to 901 Nigerian vendors under the Shell Contractor Support Fund since 2012. These loans help improve their tendering opportunities.

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NCC Commends Ondo Govt Broadband Plan Through Odua Infraco, Sets Up Committee

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NCC Commends Ondo Govt Broadband Plan Through Odua Infraco, Sets Up Committee

Olushola Okunlade Writes

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has commended the Government of Ondo State for its commitment to the deployment of broadband infrastructure through the Odua Infraco, urging other states to come on board the efforts to make the service available to their citizens.  

A delegation of Ondo State, led by the Chairman of Ondo State Information Technology Agency, SITA, Olumbe Akinkugbe, had visited the Commission to seek advice on the best ways to enjoy seamless deployment of broadband in the state, taking a cue from the recent Broadband Technical Awareness Forum (BTAF) organized for State Governors in Abuja by the Commission.

Director, Legal and Regulatory Services of the Commission, Josephine Amuwa, who received the delegation on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, commended the visitors for their timely pursuit of the program and assured them of Commission’s commitment to achieving milestones in broadband infrastructure deployment in the State.

“We consider the meeting a watershed in our efforts at transforming Nigeria into a major digital hub in Africa, through transforming all the states of the Federation. We are particularly elated by the fact that your request for this engagement came on the heels of the Broadband Technical Awareness Forum (BTAF) organized by the Commission, for which we received a very positive scorecard from you,” she said.  

Amuwa listed the challenges impeding the progress of broadband infrastructure deployment to include Right-of-Way issues; indiscriminate charges and levies; hostilities by local communities; among others.  

NCC Commends Ondo Govt Broadband Plan Through Odua Infraco, Sets Up Committee
Left-Right: Omosowone Innocent, Director, Engineering and Information Technology Infrastructure, Ondo State Information Technology Agency (SITA); Sammy Adigun, Managing Director, Oodua InfraCo; Olumbe Akinkugbe, Chairman, SITA; Josephine Amuwa, Director, Legal and Regulatory Services, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Augustine Nwaulune, Director, Digital Economy, NCC, during the courtesy visit of SITA delegation to the Commission’s Head Office, Abuja recently.

Consequently, a tripartite committee to discuss the Ondo State Government plan with the Odua InfraCo, and the Commission, was set up to deliberate and harness mutual benefits; and to recommend the best ways to drive the actualization of such mutual benefits to the nation, and the State, and citizens. The committee is to report to the Ondo State Executive Council through NCC’s EVC on monthly basis.

The collaboration particularly targets how to use Information Communication Technology (ICT) to deliver more government services and simplify government operations.  

In 2019, the Southern Swamp Associated Gas Solutions project was commissioned, and the SPDC JV is planning to reduce associated gas flaring further through its Forcados Yokri gas-gathering project, of which large parts are set to be completed in 2022. Despite such efforts to reduce continuous flaring, unfortunately flaring intensity (the amount of gas flared for every tonne of oil and gas produced) at both SPDC- and SNEPCo-operated facilities increased in 2021 owing to short-term operational issues. Flaring from SPDC-operated facilities increased by around 5% in 2021 compared with 2020. The increase was primarily because of the extended outage of the gas compression system in SPDC’s shallow-water operations. The system was restored and became operational from January 2022. Flaring at SNEPCo-operated facilities rose by around 160% in 2021 compared with 2020. This was mainly because of an increase in flaring on the Bonga floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel. Repairs to a flex-joint on the Bonga FPSO’s gas export riser in the second quarter took longer than expected, in part because of weather conditions. While repairs were under way, the FPSO continued to produce oil and therefore flaring was necessary for safety reasons. The repairs were safely concluded in July 2021. Although flaring intensity levels rose in 2021, SPDC and SNEPCo over the last 10 years have almost halved the combined amount of hydrocarbons they flare from 1.5 million tonnes in 2012 to 0.8 million tonnes in 2021. This reduction is the result of a strict flaring reduction management process and both SPDC and SNEPCo will continue to work in close collaboration with joint-venture partners and the government to make progress towards ending routine flaring of associated gas. NIGERIA LNG EXPANSION UNDERWAY Global demand for LNG continues to grow as the world increasingly seeks reliable supplies of lowercarbon energy. Shell’s investment in Nigeria’s gas infrastructure for export is expected to help 6 This is according to a data provided by global research and consultancy business Wood Mackenzie. the country benefit further from revenues. Shell Gas B.V. and its partners took a final investment decision in 2020 on a new LNG processing unit – known as Train 7 -- at NLNG. The expansion is expected to create around 12,000 jobs for Nigerians during construction and stimulate growth of the local oil and gas service sector, with 55% of engineering and procurement of goods and services being sourced in-country. Train 7 is expected to ensure Nigeria’s continued place as a global player in a lower-carbon energy source. Once operational, Train 7 will add around 8 million tonnes per annum of capacity to the Bonny Island LNG facility, taking the total production to around 30 million tonnes per annum. In 2021, NLNG began awarding procurement and construction contracts. Early works started at the site. The first phase of the worker village is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2022 and the new material offloading facility ready for use by the end of 2022. NLNG’s Train 7 is expected to come onstream in the middle of the 2020s. KEY LICENCE RENEWED FOR DEEP-WATER SNEPCo has interests in four deep-water blocks in the Gulf of Guinea, two of which it operates. Today, nearly one-third of Nigeria’s deep-water oil and gas production comes from the Bonga and the nonoperated Erha fields.6 Since production began in 2005, Bonga alone has produced more than 950 million barrels of oil with the 2021 average oil production per day at 105,000 barrels. The Bonga FPSO vessel has a total production capacity of 225,000 barrels of oil per day and 150 standard cubic feet of gas export per day. In 2021, the availability of the FPSO vessel increased to 80% from 70% in 2020. In addition to Bonga, SNEPCo’s exploration activities have led to several significant discoveries of oil and gas over the last two decades, including the Bolia and Doro fields (Shell interest 55%). Nigeria Briefing Notes Helping to power Nigeria’s economy 13 In the right investment climate, SNEPCo believes that there are opportunities to expand. In 2021 the OML 118 (Bonga) production sharing contract was renewed and the lease extended for 20 years. Bonga North and Bonga South West Aparo (BSWA) oil fields are two such potential opportunities. Bonga North is a proposed tie-back project to the existing Bonga FPSO with Phase 1 comprising 14 wells. BSWA is a development of a new FPSO with Phase 1 comprising 23 wells. SUPPORTING RENEWABLE ENERGY STARTUPS Millions of Nigerians are excluded from the country’s power grid and Shell Companies in Nigeria have established and provided substantial funding for a not-for-profit, impact-investing company called All On. Operating as an independent company, All On works to bring reliable electricity – often from renewable energy sources -- to off-grid urban and rural customers. This support aims to build a solid pipeline of viable businesses that can create the scale required to address Nigeria’s access to energy gap. In December 2019, SPDC and SNEPCo made a significant additional 10-year financing commitment of $160 million in All On, bringing the total commitment to $200 million. By the end of 2021, All On had provided investment capital to over 40 renewable energy start-ups in its portfolio – an increase of more than 30% from 2020. One such company is Infibranches Technologies Limited, to which All On has committed $2 million, which is expected to enable the indigenous technology company to expand sales of solar home systems via its more than 13,000 agent banking partners across Nigeria. With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, the All On Hub was established in 2020 to provide nonfinancial support and build the capabilities of off-grid energy entrepreneurs. In 2021, the hub supported 81 ventures – nearly double the 41 supported in 2020. Also in 2021, All On, Odyssey Energy Solutions and the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet launched a $10 million equipment financing facility as part of the DART pilot programme in Nigeria. 7 Hydraulic flying leads support the delivery of hydraulic fluid and/or chemicals between subsea equipment. 8 Subsea trees are an assembly of valves and other components used to monitor and control the production of a subsea well. DART will combine demand pooling, aggregated purchasing of solar equipment, and access to affordable finance to unlock economies of scale for solar companies, achieve cost savings for end-users, and accelerate the growth of the renewable energy sector in Nigeria and beyond. DEVELOPING LOCAL CONTENT AND SKILLS Shell Companies in Nigeria contribute to the growth of Nigerian businesses that can provide technical and support services to the industry. This includes the manufacture of tools and technical kits, the operation of helicopter flights in the Niger Delta, and strategic partnerships between foreign and local companies to stimulate technology transfer and capacity development. While there are government-required programmes in some areas, such as the Nigerian and Community Content Strategy embedded in the Assa North/Ohaji South gas development project, Shell Companies in Nigeria deliberately seek to contract local businesses wherever possible. In 2021, Shell Companies in Nigeria awarded $800 million worth of contracts to Nigerian-registered companies. Of these, 92% were companies with at least 51% Nigerian ownership. SNEPCo has awarded major engineering and construction contracts to companies that are indigenous, have local staff, or possess domestic capabilities in the country. At present, the manufacture and rebuild of hydraulic flying leads7 (HFLs) is being carried out in-country by wholly indigenous companies. Pressure Controls Systems Nigeria Limited, another Nigerian company, continues to refurbish old subsea trees.8 Sometimes, a lack of access to capital hinders Nigerian companies from competing for and executing contracts effectively. Shell Companies in Nigeria have provided access to nearly $1.6 billion in loans to 901 Nigerian vendors under the Shell Contractor Support Fund since 2012. These loans help improve their tendering opportunities.

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Credible Journalism Can Influence Credible Elections – Danbatta

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NCC EVC

By Moninuola Sulaiman

As the campaigns and build-up to the 2023 general elections thicken, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said that the media holds the ace in making a difference in promoting credible elections in Nigeria.

Danbatta told the gathering of the cream of Nigerian editors at the 18th All-Nigeria Editors Conference, organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) at the Concord Hotels in Owerri, Imo State, with the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma in attendance, where he reiterated the importance of the roles of the journalists, before, during and after the 2023 elections.

In Danbatta’s goodwill to the conference, delivered by the Director, Public Affairs of the Commission, Reuben Muoka, he expressed the confidence that the vibrant Nigerian media, credited with its sterling performance from the history of struggle for the country’s political independence, where Nigerian nationalists, who were good journalists made “brilliant and courageous outing”, will work in the interest of the nation. 

NCC EVC
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCC.

Speaking to the theme of the conference, “2023: Political Landscape, Credible Elections and the Role of the Editors”, Danbatta declared that good journalism is critical to sustainable democratic culture as political stability is enhanced by the conduct of successful elections.

He said he “believes the editors will leave the conference with resolutions setting clear, unambiguous and very robust parameters to guide the role of the media in the forthcoming elections in a fair, objective and balanced manner.”

“Beyond and above the traditional routine role of the media in information-sharing, education and entertainment, the media is a social agency constitutionally charged to watch those of us in public office from derailing from the pursuit of the social contract and the social good. No other agency of the civil society is so positioned to influence social progress,” he declared. 

He also informed the gathering that the Commission is dedicated to the implementation of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025), and the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020-2030), among other regulatory instruments, with a view to enhancing connectivity and social cohesion in the land. Hence, he said befitting infrastructure, including the upcoming 5G spectrum auction, are all aimed at improving availability and accessibility and affordability. He said there is no doubt that the availability of telecommunications infrastructure will enhance credibility of elections. 

Danbatta specifically expressed gratitude to the Nigeria media for trusting the NCC and supporting its efforts to fulfil its mandate right from the beginning of the transition from “state-dominated telecommunication operations to a deregulated, more liberalised market.” 

The EVC recalled that NCC’s friendship and partnership with the media have been very mutually-fruitful, as the Commission has leveraged on the media for increased awareness by the public of NCC’s activities, programmes and achievements. 

Danbatta also commended the journalists covering the telecom sector as well as other communication professionals for supporting the Commission all the way by giving adequate and prominent coverage to its successes in consumer protection, improvement in infrastructure, adoption of new technologies, most recently, the launch of the Fifth Generation (5G) networks, and reportage of challenges facing the telecom industry. 

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