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NCC moves to assess level competition in data centre market

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The Nigerian Communication Commission has engaged the services of Messrs. Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC), a consulting firm, to conduct a study that will assess the current level of competition in the colocation and infrastructure sharing (CIS) segment of the Nigerian telecommunications sector.

This study according to the commission is in the exercise of NCC’s regulatory functions as provided in the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003, and is expected to be concluded between April and July 2022.

The exercise is to enable Commission to get insightful facts to glean the dynamics at play and ensure the continuous growth of the CIS segment of the telecom market.

The commission noted that the issue is a priority in view of the critical role played by the Colocation and Infrastructure Sharing(CIS)segment of the telecom ecosystem in ensuring robust services, adding that seventy-eight licensees are currently operating in that market segment.

Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission represented by Yetunde Akinliye, Director, Policy, Competition and Economy Analysis (PCEA) at NCC, while speaking at the NCC’s stakeholders’ forum recently organised in Lagos on the commencement of the study, disclosed to that the forum was hosted to intimate operators in the CIS segment of the telecom market on the study and to secure their buy-in and cooperation with the consultants undertaking the study.

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Akinloye disclosed that in line with its mandate of creating an enabling environment for competition among operators in the industry as well as ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services, the NCC periodically conducts studies to assess the level of competition in the industry.

“Having successfully conducted competition assessment studies in 2005, 2010, and 2013, the Commission had issued determinations based on the findings of the studies while the outcome of such studies has also enabled the Commission to come up with various regulatory interventions and initiatives to continuously provide a level-playing field for the interplay of market forces. These procedures are emplaced by the Commission to ensure fair, efficient, and sustainable competition in the Nigerian telecom industry,” Akinloye said.

He stated that, since the successful completion of the 2013 study, there had been significant development and activities in some market segments of the industry that had necessitated the conduct of another competition study.

“The CIS segment has recorded significant growth and transformation over the years having about 80 licensees, operating in the segment while its performance and activities continue to impact significantly on other segments of the Nigerian industry. The Director PCEA also informed that activities in the CIS market have also attained the targets set out in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025),” he said.

Akinloye also declared that the objective of the study is to provide current insights into the level of competition in the CIS market segment and articulate strategies to enhance opportunities in the market, as well as ensure the deepening of competition which will ultimately support the provision of innovative services for the benefits of both market players and the consumers at large.

Akinloye informed participants and asserted that the forum provides opportunities for stakeholders to gain an understanding of the objective, scope, and methodology of the study, as well as to ensure that questionnaire or Request for Information (RFI) developed by the consultants to access the level of competition in the market are well understood.

Bako Wakali, Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity at NCC, also joined Akinloye in seeking the full cooperation of licensees in the CIS segment of the telecom market whenever they are approached by the consultants for relevant information either through the instrumentality of the RFI or through one-on-one sessions with consultants in the course of the implementation of the study.

According to Wakil, the study is in the interest of the CIS licensees, other players, and the consumers. It will also provide the Commission with useful and evidenced-based insights necessary to ensure healthy competition and a level-playing ground in the CIS segment and ensure sustainability in the growth of the telecommunication industry.

“Also, rest assured of the confidentiality of any information provided to the Commission in the course of this study, no matter how sensitive,” Bakali said.

Mary Iwelumo, Partner at PwC during her presentation to telecom stakeholders at the event, Partner at PwC, reiterate the voice of the Commission on the objectives of the study and urged them to cooperate with the firm in providing accurate, timely, and adequate responses to the RFI or the questionnaire that would be administered, to ensure that appropriate information is obtained to address the challenges in the sector.

She listed three major tasks of PwC in the execution of the study which includes gathering data, reviewing and analysing information that would be sourced from the Commission, the operators, and other jurisdictions for engaging identified stakeholders to get feedback and prepare the report.

While underscoring the role of operators in the study, she disclosed that operators will be involved in the assignment as an important source of information, as providers of technical inputs, and as validating the findings of the study.