The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is unwavering in its commitment to deploy a Revenue Assurance Solution (RAS) in the telecommunication sector to ensure a more robust Annual Operating Levy (AOL) administration in the telecom industry.
This subject matter was the focus of an industry stakeholder consultative engagement organized by the Commission at its Head Office in Abuja on Friday, February 25, 2022, which is in congruence with the NCC’s renowned commitment to inclusive participation and consultative stakeholder engagement as part of its regulatory practice.
The RAS application is designed to ensure a linkage with licensed telecommunications operators’ systems and will have the capability of capturing and reporting in near real-time, billing activities by the operators for the purposes, amongst others, of computing and assuring with minimal margin of error, the accruable AOL to NCC from the licensees. When deployed, the NCC RAS will bring significant solutions to the industry’s challenges, including a more effective and enhanced monitoring and regulation of the licensed telecommunications operators.
Speaking at the event, which was well attended by representatives of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Licensees of the Value Added Service chain, officials of the Commission and other industry stakeholders, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said AOL remains the bedrock of an efficient and effective telecommunications regulatory environment.
Danbatta said the event was organized to sensitize industry stakeholders through a conversation on the Commission’s plan to deploy RAS that will instill greater transparency and increased accuracy in the administration of AOL in the sector, as stipulated by the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003.
According to the EVC, since the NCA 2003 came into force and pursuant to Section 72 of the Act, various efforts have been made by the Commission towards achieving an effective AOL administration, including the development of AOL Regulations 2014, which is being reviewed.
He said the Commission believes that the deployment of appropriate RAS would enhance monitoring and regulatory activities around AOL administration and confer higher levels of integrity and fidelity on the AOL figures obtainable in the industry.
In a contextual recall, Danbatta stated that the need to deploy the most appropriate Revenue Assurance Systems in the Nigerian telecommunications industry began since 2015 when Commission published an invitation to bid for the services, in which 3R Company Nigeria Limited emerged the preferred bidder. The EVC informed that during the bid process, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), indicated a ‘no objection’ to the process.
“However, it was reasoned thereafter, that due to the scope of the project, the solution would be more appropriately procured under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. This led to the invitation of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to guide the process, as mandated by its regulations. Following this, the Commission set up a Project Delivery Team (PDT), which worked with a consortium of legal advisers, financial modelers and PPP experts under the guidance of ICRC, and took the appropriate steps required under the ICRC Regulations 2005,” he said.
He said part of the process included a proper due diligence of the preferred partner, which received a clean bill of health from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) while the Commission also subjected the software and hardware components of the proposed RAS to the certification of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The EVC stated further that the Commission recorded a major feat in December 17, 2021, as the transaction received the Certificate of Compliance from the ICRC in line with the Provisions of the ICRC Act 2005. “Thus, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) graciously presented the NCC RAS project to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) Meeting on January 26, 2022, where the final approval was given for the implementation of the solution,” he said.
Underscoring the EVC’s position, the Head, Special Duties, Reuben Muoka, stated that the industry has been waiting for the RAS from the Commission. He also signaled that this current regulatory intervention will bring about a multiplier effect on the economy, local content and several other sectors in the Nigerian economy.
Speaking in the same vein, Deputy Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, NCC, Edoyemi Ogoh, stated that the approval of the RAS project by the FEC is a major success in finding a transparent process for an independent assessment, validation and completeness of the Annual Operating Levy (AOL).
Ogoh said the solution has the capability to limit the loss of revenue due to faulty billings, inaccurate or incomplete data and information from service providers, redundantly provided services and frauds. “It will enable the resolution of inconsistencies in billings for services provided by licensed service providers to their subscribers as well as AOL bills from NCC to service providers, resulting in optimum efficiency and accuracy. The RAS would enable the Commission to validate the information, records and data that are supplied to the Commission by the licensees,” Ogoh emphasised.