Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Prof. U. G. Danbatta, FNSE, FRAES, FAEng, FNIEEE Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission Covid

The Nigerian Communications Commission is playing a major role in the fight against the novel Corona virus. The Commission is working with different agencies of government and operators to ensure the safety of all Nigerians.

The COVID 19 outbreak and the attendant lockdown and restrictions has led to a more virtual way of working in the NCC. The lockdown has led to the leveraging of virtual digital platforms to facilitate our work engagement both with internal and external stakeholders.

The NCC as the regulator of the ICT sector has facilitated a national sensitization and enlightenment campaign on COVID 19 to compliment the effort of government by deploying its online social media platforms to disseminate information in English and Pidgin English as well as the three major Nigerian languages (Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba) on the dangers of the Corona virus.

To ensure the effectiveness of the enlightenment campaign of sending out safety tips to subscribers, the Commission temporarily relaxed its “Do-not-Disturb” Directive to allow Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to disseminate messages on COVID-19 emanating from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The 19 Emergency Communication Centres (ECCs) constructed by NCC across the country, which provide the 112 toll–free emergency number, is fully activated to ensure the monitoring and tracking of COVID-19 cases across the country.

The lockdown has brought about an increase in online presence which has led to huge pressure on infrastructure. The Commission has therefore approved resource sharing by MNOs during this period. This includes fibre optics cables and other resources in the event of cable cuts and other unforeseen developments.

The MNOs have also been granted Right of Passage (RoP) as essential services to ensure that they maintain their networks for efficient service delivery during the lockdown. They have also been directed to ensure that their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes are in tandem with government initiatives to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic in order to provide safety and support aid materials that will protect the public against Coronavirus.

In order to ensure the protection of telecom infrastructure nationwide, the Commission is constantly in liaison with law enforcement agencies to avoid any form of network interruption.

The Commission has also facilitated the provision of dedicated short codes for emergency calls through which medical experts disseminate information to the general public. The public is also able to make enquiries about COVID-19 using the short codes.

Finally, through the Commission’s intervention, the MNOs are providing free data access to information websites such as those of the NCDC, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Federal Ministry of Health. There is also provisioning of free SMS for subscribers to help them communicate in addition to ringtones/caller tunes extracted from campaign materials of the Ministry of Health and NCDC.

The Commission is also exploring other measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please find below some links to some of the sensitization programmes:

About the Author

Prof. U. G. Danbatta, FNSE, FRAES, FAEng, FNIEEE Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission

Prior to his appointment in August 2015, Prof. Danbatta served as a member of the Implementation Committee of the Northwest University Kano, and Acting Vice-Chancellor of the Kano University of Science & Technology, Wudil. He was the Vice President of the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) International Centre for Advanced Communication Studies. Prior to that he was a lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering – Faculty of Technology, Bayero University Kano, where he taught courses in telecommunications engineering and electronics for 28 years. He has to his credit more than 50 articles in journals, conference proceedings and technical reports. He is also the author of ‘Elements of Static Engineering Electromagnetics’.

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