AN EXAMINATION OF EMERGING LEGAL CHALLENGES IN NIGERIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS LAW

AN EXAMINATION OF EMERGING LEGAL CHALLENGES IN NIGERIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS LAW

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ABSTRACT

This dissertation seeks to examine the legal framework for the regulation of telecommunications

in Nigeria and highlight the various emerging issues and legal challenge therefrom. With the liberalization of the telecommunications sector and the emergence of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) in commercial quantity, the Nigerian telecommunications tempo has changed drastically, with licenses granted to private operators, thus breaking the monopolistic status of the Nigerian Telecommunications Plc (NITEL). A lot of benefits have been recorded over the years in the industry - investment has increased, job opportunities have been created and there has been a general economic growth and consumer benefit. New services have emerged and convergence in services has been a matter of convenience. Despite the huge achievements of telecommunications in the country, however, the sector has been faced with a lot of challenges such as multiple regulation, government interference in telecommunications matters, multiple, high and illegal taxation, cybercrime and security of infrastructure.Other emerging challenges include the challenges of cybersecurity, data protection of cyberusers, lack of a viable competition law, security of telecoms infrastructure, and the thorny issue of interconnectivity and access to network facilities. The sources, scope of application and historical development of Telecommunications Law were examined in chapter two of the research. Then the regulatory framework for the regulation of telecommunications (both local and international) was highlighted. Thereafter the emerging challenges were examined with an indepth analysis leading to far reaching findings and recommendations.

CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1       BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

In the present twenty-first century, economic growth and development have been

inextricably linked to information technology as economies have transformed and driven

new value from the Industrial Age to the Information or digital Age. Latest statistics

which shows that in the last ten years, the country has seen a dramatic growth from

400,000 lines to 226 million lines out of which about 150 million are active.1The

significance of telecommunication infrastructure was stated by the National Policy on

ICT to be a driving tool for socio-economic development2. The policy acknowledged the

role played by telecom infrastructure in so many aspects of the economy, such as

business (e-commerce), law (e-filing), banking (mobile and e-banking) etc. Other

positive indicators of ICT progress in Nigeria include the growth in e-banking and e-

commerce where new business models are being implemented by companies like Konga,

Jumia, Paga, Wakanow, Jobberman – all creating new jobs and stimulating the local

economy.

Despite this phenomenal growth however, there has not been a corresponding growth in

regulation which has occasioned a legal vacuum that currently constitutes a monumental

challenge to operators and stakeholders alike.

1Industry statistics published by the Nigerian Communication Commission (www.ncc.gov.ng/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id..html). Accessed 5th September, 2016.

2 National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy 2012

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Nigerian telecommunications regulations are inadequate to engender an efficient and

effective regulation of telecommunications business and electronic commerce; the

Nigerian telecommunications environment is faced with fundamental institutional,

operational and regulatory challenges; there are issues of multiple regulation and

incessant government intervention in telecom‟s operation raising so much ambiguity and

confusion in the sector. Federal, State and Local Government MDAs are jostling issuing

levies and notices to telecom operators each claiming legitimate backing fromvarious

enabling laws. These MDAs (from the 3 tiers of government) see an opportunity to

generate revenue from the operations of telecoms operators through the imposition of

Multiple, illegitimate levies and taxes. The failure of the industry to submit to these

illegitimate regime and demands often results in disruptive enforcement actions by these

MDAs. Network operators continue to witness harassment, forcibly sealing of telecoms

sites or removing components of site installations in their bid to compel compliance.

These continued interventions in telecoms operations by MDAs results in a disruptive of

services, degradation of service quality, a major increase in operating expenses and the

general cost of carrying on communications business in Nigeria.

In the area of Cybercrime and Personal Data Protection and Privacy of Subscribers, even

though much is being done in this regard, there is need for the strengthening of the

current legal mechanisms (especially the Cybercrime Crime (Prohibition and Prevention

Ect.) Act of 2015in order to remove ambiguities and further consolidate government‟s

effort towards an efficient and effective tackling of Cybercrime.

In    August,    2009,    the    Nigerian     telecommunications     regulator,    the    Nigerian

Communications Commission (NCC), in exercise of its regulatory powers under the

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