The Nigerian telecommunications sector has become an area of priority to the government of Nigeria as it is a key driver of digital economic growth.
The sector accounted for 15% of Nigeria’s real GDP in the second quarter of 2022.
For the full year of 2021, the sector accounted for 12.6% of the economy
Just like every other sector, the telecom sector is also regulated. It Is primarily regulated by the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003.
According to the NCC, telecoms is one of the sectors whose performance lifted the country out of recession in the fourth quarter of 2020 by contributing 12.45%to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
There has been an increase in the demand for telecom services since the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic as businesses, individuals and government institutions relied heavily on its services for their daily operations and routines.
The regulatory body for telecoms in Nigeria is the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which was established by the NCA in 2003.
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Laws that govern the sector
Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA 2003). The NCA 2003 contains a detailed framework for the operation of telecoms in Nigeria which includes; licensing, competition policy, quality service, interconnection, scarce resources management, infrastructure sharing, universal service, tariffs regulation, penalties and sanctions, and dispute resolution.
The Act is applicable to the provision and use of all communications services and networks, in whole or in part within Nigeria or on a ship or aircraft registered in Nigeria.
Section 1 of the NCA provides that: “The primary object of this Act is to create and provide a regulatory framework for the Nigerian communications industry and all matters related thereto”
While section 2 established the NCC, Section 70 of the Act empowers it to make and publish regulations on matters such as, but not limited to, written authorizations, permits, assignments, and licenses granted or issued under the Act as well as other stipulated functions.
The NCC is supervised by the Federal Ministry of Communications and as stipulated under the Act, anyone who intends to operate a communications system or facility or provide a communications service must be authorized and licensed by the NCC or have been exempted from such requirements.
Each type of telecommunications activity requires a separate license; however, a number of activities can be undertaken under a single license.
The two categories of licenses issued by the NCC include individual licenses; and class licenses.
The Individual license is the type in which the terms and conditions upon which the license is granted are specific to the activity undertaken by the license holder.
A Class Licence is a type of general authorization in which the terms and conditions/obligations are common to all license holders. Requires only registration with the Commission for applicants to commence operation.
A Unified Licence is an authorization that allows the licensee to provide a basket of services under a single license.
The NCC in a bid to fulfill its statutory function issued various regulations to govern the sector.
The Act defined Wireless Telegraphy as “the emitting or receiving, over paths which are not provided by any material substance constructed or arranged for that purpose, of electromagnetic energy of a frequency, not exceeding three million megacycles a second, being energy..”
Section 4 of this act stipulates that (1) No person shall establish or use any station for wireless telegraphy or install or use any apparatus for wireless telegraphy except under and in accordance with a license on that behalf.
(2) Any person who contravenes the provisions of subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offense.
According to the Act, the NCC is responsible for the grant and renewal of Wireless Telegraphy licenses.
The National Broadcasting Commission Act ( NBC Act)
This Act which is the most important legislation that applies to broadcasting is responsible for regulating broadcasting services in Nigeria.
The NBC is supervised by the Federal Ministry of Information.
The NBC code 2020 (6th edition) provides that “all persons who wish to operate “web/online broadcasting services” in Nigeria shall be registered with the NBC and that such persons are required to comply with the provisions of the NBC Code.
In Nigeria, the power to issue broadcasting and Media licenses is vested in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with recommendations from NBC.
While section 1 established the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, Section 2 of the Act empowers the Commission to (a) “ Advise the Federal Government generally on the implementation of the National Mass Communication Policy with particular reference to broadcasting;
(b)receiving, processing, and considering applications for the establishment, ownership, or operation of radio and television stations
NBC is saddled with the responsibility of regulating and controlling the broadcast industry in Nigeria.
The NBC is also responsible for determining and applying sanctions including revocation of licenses of defaulting stations that do not operate in accordance with the broadcast code and in the public interest;
NBC is also empowered by the act to approve the transmitter power, the location of stations, and areas of coverage as well as regulate the types of broadcast equipment to be used.
The Cybercrimes (Prohibition and Prevention) Act, 2015
This Act regulates cybercrime and security in Nigeria by creating a comprehensive legal, regulatory, and institutional framework to prohibit, prevent, detect, prosecute, and punish cybercrime.
Since communication also occurs in cyberspace, this act is applicable to the telecom industry.
The Act encourages cybersecurity and protection of computer systems and networks, electronic communications, data and computer programs, intellectual property, and privacy rights.
According to the Act, the National Security Adviser’s office serves as the coordinating body for the security and enforcement authorities and The Attorney-General of the Federation reinforces and improves Nigeria’s existing legal frameworks regarding cybercrime.
All law enforcement, security, and intelligence agencies in Nigeria are responsible for developing the institutional capacity necessary for the effective implementation of the provisions of the 2015 Cybercrime Act,
What you should know
The National Environmental Standards Regulation and Enforcement Agency ( NESREA) is one of the agencies that play a vital role in the Nigerian telecommunications sector.
NESREA is a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Housing and Urban Development created in line with Section 20 of the CFRN 1999.
NESREA is saddled with the responsibility of enforcing all environmental laws, guidelines, policies, standards, and regulations in Nigeria.