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    Vanguard Regulator of The Year Award: Resuscitating ECC earns Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta accolades


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    By Prince Osuagwu,

    As the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta gets ready to receive Vanguard’s Regulator of the year Award on Friday, his effort in resuscitating the Emergency Communication Centres, ECCs, comes to the fore.

    Stakeholders in the industry say he is deserving of the award even if only for his strides in reviving the Emergency Communications Centers (ECCs) and the introduction of harmonized national emergency communication number, 112, which played a pivotal role in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The ECCs were activated as a one-stop shop for receiving distress calls from the public and dispatching same to appropriate Emergency Response Agencies (ERAs) for timely response and resolution of the distress.

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    With 19 ECC’s established in 18 states of the Federation and the FCT, the centers play a vital role during emergencies as they facilitate response from emergency response agencies such as the Nigerian Police Force, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Fire and Ambulance Services, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and others by dialing 112 from any network.

    Stakeholders in the industry say the ECC has transformed lives and helped many in handling emergencies today.

    A value added services provider, Engr John Ubeku said: I commend Vanguard for the recognition and would love to be there on Friday to celebrate with him. at a time when the country is faced with insecurity issues such as insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and many more life-threatening incidents, Danbatta’s emergency communications centers initiative is one that shouldn’t go unnoticed”

    At a recent event in Lagos, Danbatta admitted that “the activation of Emergency Communication Centers (ECCs) across the country by the NCC is making far-reaching impact and enhancing the Federal Government’s drive to improve security of lives and property. We are happy to have sustained that initiative” he added

    Already, the NCC has received two international recognitions from the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) and the African Public Relations Association (APRA) in acknowledgment of the transformational role of the ECCs in providing succour to Nigerians who are in emergencies.

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    According to Danbatta, “the IPRA Golden World Awards (GWA) 2020 won by the Commission and the APRA Certificate of Excellence to the Commission were for its harmonized emergency number, 112 and the construction of ECCs across the country, as well as for the efforts in leveraging the emergency communication centers for national security.”

    He added “On behalf of the Board and Management of NCC, I count these recognitions as very important to the Commission as they underscore our collective efforts towards aligning our regulatory activities in enhancing the security situation in the country.

    “Because of the recognition of the important role the ECC is playing in states where we have activated them, many states are asking us to come and activate their ECCs and serious work is ongoing in this regard, as we know that this important life-saving facility supports security architecture in the country”.

    A respectable scholar and responsible academic, Danbatta has a lion’s mien in discharging regulatory functions. He is calm, calculative and takes fair but firm decisions, to steady the Nigerian telecom environment.

    Little wonder, many African regulators have adopted Nigeria’s model to galvanize their country’s regulatory activities.

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    Appointed in 2015 straight from the classroom, many people thought that keeping pace with an industry already cruising on enviable growth record would be a herculean task to an engineer whose major comfort zone has been the four walls of the university lecture rooms.

    But, just like he described himself as a fast learner, the transition was fast and smooth.

    A professor of telecommunications engineering, Danbatta before his appointment, was a lecturer at Kano State University of Science and Technology, where he supervised more than 60 PhD, MEng and BEng projects in diverse areas of telecommunications, and subsequently rose to the position of Acting Vice-Chancellor.

    However, Danbatta was not totally new to the sector. He had a stint at the Digital Bridge Institute, DBI; an international centre for advanced communications studies established in 2004 by the NCC for capacity in diverse areas of Information and Communication Technology, ICT. He even became the Vice President of that Institute.

    While at DBI, Danbatta developed expertise in major areas of ICT implementation, policy and regulation, including Regulation of the Telecommunications Sector of the Nigerian Economy; Competition, Interconnection and Price Regulations in a developing economy; and Issues Concerning Authorization of Telecommunications Services in a developing economy.

    He was also an expert in formulating Strategies for ensuring Universal Access and Service to Telecommunications Services; Strategies towards Effective Spectrum Management in a developing economy; Issues on Institutional and Legal Framework for Effective Regulation of Telecommunications Services; and, Emerging Technologies and Impact on Regulation of the Telecommunications Sector of a developing economy, among others.

    His first five years in office saw effective regulatory regime through cutting-edge initiatives. The initiatives strengthened the role of telecommunications sector as a major contributor to the growth of country’s Gross Domestic Product GDP, and boosted telecoms investment inflows from $36 billion in 2015 to over $70 billion.

    He spearheaded a campaign to improve Nigeria’s broadband penetration from the paltry five percent as the time of his appointment to about 30 percent in 2018. Before the deadline, the sector not only achieved, but surpassed the target.

    He was re-appointed in 2020 and is currently serving a second term of five years in office. He has set a new national broadband target of 70 percent by 2025 and is leading the charge to realizing it.

    The multiple award-winning Professor is truly an achiever. In December 2021, Danbatta guided the industry to a successful auction of two 5G spectrum licenses. The network is widely known to possess the potential to let emerging technologies advance socio-economic developments in the country.

    His stellar leadership style was recently rewarded by the organizers of the prestigious Zik Prize, as they bestowed on him the Zik Prize award for Professional Leadership.

    Danbatta has also served two five-year terms as a Member of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN). He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAEng), Renewable and Alternative Energy Society (RAES) and Nigerian Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE).

    Danbatta earned BEng, MSc degrees from the Technical University of Wroclaw in Poland and received his PhD from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

    Yet, in spite of his towering achievements, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, remains an epitome of modesty. (Vanguard)

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