In a dynamic address at the Fourth Telecommunications Sector Sustainability Forum, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), delved into the crucial theme, ‘Mainstreaming Data Centres in the Nigerian Digital Economy.’ The event, held at the Colossus Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, saw key stakeholders and distinguished guests in attendance.
Prof. Danbatta, who was represented by Head, Tariff Administration at NCC, Dr. Sunday Atu, commenced his speech by acknowledging the honor of delivering the keynote address and emphasizing the NCC’s role in regulating the telecommunications sector as a vital driver of Nigeria’s digital economy. The forum aimed to facilitate a discussion on the opportunities, challenges, and impact of data center services within Nigeria’s digital landscape.
He spotlighted the growing importance of data, encapsulated in the phrase “Data is the new oil,” acknowledging its global resonance in the context of the emerging digital economy. Prof. Danbatta praised the choice of the theme, recognizing the pivotal role that data center services play in ensuring the security and reliability of a nation’s digital infrastructure.
The Executive Vice Chairman highlighted the centralized architecture of data centers, offering robust security against malicious attacks and unauthorized access. He emphasized the efficiency gained through shared critical resources, particularly in addressing challenges like energy shortages. Prof. Danbatta pointed out that the nature of data centers aligns with global trends and positions Nigeria strategically to attract foreign investments.
Drawing attention to recent developments, he noted Africa’s emergence as a destination for global Big Tech players, with Google and Meta investing in subsea fiber cables. However, Prof. Danbatta underlined the importance of balancing such investments with considerations of digital sovereignty and the need for national policies to localize data.
He commended the Nigerian government’s steps to encourage and support data center services, as outlined in the National Digital Economy Policy Strategy. Prof. Danbatta stressed that data centers have the potential to attract significant foreign investment, contributing to job creation and economic growth.
With the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), he highlighted the increasing significance of data centers in providing a platform for greater productivity and national competitiveness. Prof. Danbatta mentioned the NCC’s efforts in sharing critical resources within the telecoms industry, leading to frameworks for collocation and infrastructure sharing.
In discussing the place of broadband in the ecosystem, he acknowledged the role of the NCC in policy and regulatory initiatives, promoting public investment in broadband backbone networks. Prof. Danbatta outlined efforts to reduce data prices, increase infrastructure outsourcing, release more spectrum for 5G, and license mobile virtual network operators.
He acknowledged the challenges faced by the industry, including digital literacy, power supply, taxation, and regulatory complexities. However, Prof. Danbatta expressed optimism about the positive transformation in the Nigerian macro-economy driven by developments in the broadband space.
In conclusion, he emphasized the collective effort needed to mainstream data centers, ensuring they prioritize national digital sovereignty while reaping socio-economic benefits. Prof. Danbatta assured continued support from the NCC to licensees for further expansion and investment in the data center space, with strict adherence to data protection regulations.