AfricaNXT confab aligns with NCC’s vision of tech-driven prosperity

 …says Danbatta as he pledges to sustain participation, support for conference

 The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reiterated its faith in the vision of the AfricaNEXT Conference (AfricaNXT) to “co-create a prosperous future for all Africans” through collaborations, conversations and programming that are oriented in harvesting, harnessing and leveraging innovative technologies. 

“The visualisations and concrete actions of the AfricaNXT conference are in congruence with NCC’s faith in the promise of technology to galvanise Nigeria’s, nay Africa’s, development. This explains our continued support and participation at the Conference which is now in its 10th year, and we will continue to play active roles in this event which takes place in Lagos annually.”

Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, stated this during a chat with the Commission’s in-house media team last week, ahead of preparations by the Commission’s delegation to the confab, which will take place from 27th February to 4th March 2022. 

The EVC regretted his inability to lead NCC’s delegation to the conference because he is already slated to play a key governmental and institutional role at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2022, organised by GSM Association. The MWC, the world’s largest and most influential forum and exhibition by stakeholders in the mobile technology ecosystem, takes place in Barcelona annually in the same week AfricaNXT happens in Lagos.

Formerly known as Social Media Week Lagos, the AfricaNXT Conference is the largest assemblage of innovators from across Africa and Africa’s Diasporan communities. As a consistent programming partner of AfricaNXT, the NCC has been a regular feature of the conference and festival.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic compelled the organisers to observe a low-key, strictly virtual conference in 2021, the 2020 conference was attended by over 20,000 people (both in-person and virtually). At the 2020 conference, NCC’s discourse overviewed the Fifth Generation (5G) technology and services, where the panelists explained 5G, which at that time, seemed like an abstract idea to many.

At the AfricaNXT 2022, the NCC will take the discourse on 5G further in a more pragmatic context in view of the progress achieved over the past two years.

The thematic focus for its panel of discussants is, “Moving Forward Steadily, Timely and with Precision: The Socio-Economic Significance of Deployment of 5G Services”. Participants will have the opportunity to glean the benefits of 5G services to individuals, businesses, and the nation, with positive implications for the continent, as Nigeria matches steadily to become the first country in West Africa to deploy 5G technology services.

The journey to the birth of 5G services in Nigeria started in 2019. Between then and now, the NCC has been upbeat in rallying stakeholders to forge all necessary partnerships, collaborations and alliances. There have been numerous stakeholders’ consultations (including an all-inclusive, robust public hearing at the National Assembly; and a presentation to the Federal Executive Council). The NCC also instituted a communications campaign, pivoted on public information and education, especially in the vortex of misconceptions, misinformation, disinformation and malinformation about 5G. 

Following the approval by the Federal Government, a Proof of Concept (PoC) trials demonstrating the possibilities of 5G took place in some cities in Nigeria. The NCC, in collaboration with stakeholders, equally developed an Information Memorandum (IM), which was reviewed by all stakeholders, following which a policy on 5G was instituted by the Federal Government. The policy was unveiled to the public by President Muhammadu Buhari on 25 January 2022.

Armed with an extant approval, the NCC also had earlier conducted a globally-acclaimed auction of the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum on December 13, 2021. The spectrum is to be used to deploy 5G services. The bid was won by two communications companies and licensees of the NCC – Mafab Communications and MTN Nigeria. Just few days ago, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, officially handed to NCC the spectrum for 5G services for allocation to the winners of the bid.

At the handover ceremony, which took place at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on 17th February 2022, Danbatta put the status of implementation of 5G services metaphorically and figuratively by stating that “the coast is now clear” for the launch of 5G services in Nigeria. 

Having fulfilled every condition precedent to the deployment of 5G services in Nigeria, the NCC, tried-and-true, and in demonstration of commitment to its noted operational efficiency and regulatory effectiveness, is not resting on its oars in public education and information sharing. It is the reason the Commission is leveraging AfricaNXT, a rare, seminal, and historic assemblage of practical innovators and enthusiasts of technology and development to deepen knowledge about 5G among its ever-widening geography of stakeholders. 

The NCC discourse at the AfricaNXT 2022 will take place at the FutureNow Stage, Innovation Pavilion, Landmark Event Centre, Water Corporation Drive, Off Ligali Ayorinde Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. The session will start at 2.00 p.m. prompt on Thursday, March 3, 2022.  

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