At ITU Telecom World, NCC advocates soft regulation to drive broadband demand

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By Olubunmi Adeniyi

Nigeria pavilion at ITU Telecom World 2012 which ended weekend in Dubai Photo credit: ITU

Lagos. October 22, 2012: The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has advocated for subtle regulation of the telecoms sector to stimulate demand for broadband networks and services in the country.

Market forces alone are not enough to drive broadband demand Loila Emakpore, Director, NCC, says during a panellist discussion at the just-concluded International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World 2012 international meet held in Dubai.

ITU Telecom World 2012 brought together industry representatives and government leaders at the highest level for five days of critical dialogue on networking, knowledge-sharing and challenges defining the ICT sector as well as the opportunity arising from it.

Emakpore notes that a subtle and guiding regulation would encourage and unleash the untapped demand for broadband in Nigeria.

“We can’t leave it all to the market, we need regulation, but we always advocate light regulation”, she says underscoring the importance of regulatory guidance for stimulating growth of broadband.

“It is important to note that the role of the regulator is to ensure balance and fair play, and we have to ensure that the big ones do not take over the market. We need fair, consistent, stable and predictable sets of regulations”, the NCC Director adds.

One thing that panellists were in agreement with at the ITU 2012 forum session on ‘Stimulating Demand for Broadband’ was the lack of a requirement to stimulate basic levels of demand.

Another member of the Panel and CEO, Gateway Communications, Mike Van Den Burgh, says “I don’t think we need to stimulate demand, demand is virtually elastic as long as we can provide the facilities and environment.”

Loila Emakpore, Director, NCC, on the panel discussion on ‘Stimulating Demand for Broadband’ at the ITU Telecom World 2012 in Dubai says that a subtle and guiding regulation would encourage and unleash the untapped demand for broadband in Nigeria. Photo credit: ITU

“For me this is about facilitating demand and enabling. For me, the key element is to provide an environment where the demand can be satisfied,” Burgh said.

The Gateway Communication boss whose opinion revolved around the optimum level of regulatory intervention, echoed those sentiments that, there has to be certainty or regulation and a reasonable return on investment.

He said citing the recent example of Kenyan government’s recent introduction of a 10 per cent tax on M-Pesa (mobile) payments, effectively moving the regulatory goalposts on a service that has 14 million users and a throughput of $24 million per day that will likely have deeply unstimulating impact on broadband in Kenya.

In his own view, VP International External Affairs, AT&T, Karim Antonio Lesina “regulatory certainty, long term certainty is essential when you plan investments.”

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