Orji, U. J.
For over a decade, the Nigerian telecommunications industry has continued to grow in phenomenal proportions. Recent statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission indicate that Nigeria grew from having one of the world’s lowest teledensity rates with about 400,000 lines in 2000 to having over 150 million telecommunications active subscribers by February 2016. Nigeria currently has the largest population of telecommunications subscribers in Africa and also one of the largest in the world. This phenomenal growth has been linked to the implementation of market liberalization reforms that were initiated in the 1990’s and the availability of mobile communications systems. The industry is also regarded as the fourth pillar of the Nigerian economy in terms of GDP contribution and the fastest growing at a rate of 24 percent. Hence, telecommunications is now seen not only as a critical economic sector, but also a facilitator of social and economic development. However, in several areas, the rapid growth of the industry appears not to have been matched with adequate legal and regulatory measures to address emerging challenges in the industry. This state of affairs to a large extent has contributed in hindering the development potential of the industry while also raising several concerns for consumers and service providers. Against this background this dissertation seeks to undertake a critical review of the legal and regulatory regime for the governance of the Nigerian telecommunications industry. The dissertation mainly applies the analytical method of legal research with a view to assessing the legal and regulatory regime for the governance of the Nigerian telecommunications industry and also identifying areas where there are deficiencies in that regime. In order to address these objectives, the dissertation sets out seven chapters that deal with issues including: the industry’s core legal and policy frameworks; the installation of network infrastructure; consumer protection; competition and interconnection regulation; dispute resolution. Within the above contexts, the dissertation identifies several areas where legal regulation has not kept up with developments in the industry and argues that regulatory failure has generally increased negative market effects on consumers, while also hindering the development of the industry. Accordingly, the dissertation proposes several responses including regulatory reforms to address the identified regulatory gaps. The dissertation concludes that the effect of regulatory failure in responding to the identified challenges of the industry are interlinked since regulatory failure in one aspect of the industry will either produce negative effects on consumers or impede service providers from effectively delivering reliable and affordable services to consumers. Also the fact that some of the regulatory gaps that have been identified in Nigeria’s telecommunications regime could create potential for the violation of the human right to privacy in a democratic society further underscores the need for timely responses.