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Men You Should Know: Ernest Ndukwe


When it comes to the issue of telecommunications in Nigeria? Ernest Ndukwe is a ‘Senior Man’. By ‘Senior man’, we are referring to one who has established a track record in a field and not just a track record, but an outstanding one.

To say the least, Ernest Ndukwe is a telecommunications engineer with over 38 years of experience in business management and in the telecommunications industry. He was also the executive vice-chairman of the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) at one time. Need I say more? When Nigeria needed someone to midwife the revolution in the mobile telecommunications industry, the then President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo didn’t need to look further than the man, Ernest Ndukwe.

He was appointed the chief executive officer (CEO) of NCC in 2000, and He executed his assignment successfully in 2003, following the licencing of two telecoms companies, MTN and ECONET.

After his first tenure, he was re-appointed for a second term of five years because of his exceptional performance. Ndukwe proceeded to preside over the building of an internationally- respected institution earning a reputation as a strong, transparent and open regulatory agency. Also, under his tenure at the NCC, the ICT industry witnessed tremendous growth and transformation, leading to what is now referred to as the telecommunication revolution.

Track Record of a ‘Senior Man’

Born 2nd September 1948, Ndukwe holds a Bachelor of Science ( degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile Ife in 1975. Two years later, he received a certificate in Satellite communication (1977) at the Harris Corporation Training School, Melbourne, Florida. From there, it was upward and forward for him.

Ndukwe began his professional career with Radio Communications Nigeria (RCN) Limited in 1976 and left for in-service training while in the service of Radio Communications Nigeria to the United States. On his return to Nigeria in August 1977, he continued his service with RCN and rose to the position of maintenance supervisor in 1978 and later assistant engineering manager in 1979.

Much later, he was appointed as president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON). Aside from serving as chairman of the Administrative Council of the African Telecommunications Union, he was also chairman of West African Telecom Regulators Assembly (WATRA), he had served on the Presidential Committee on Jobs Creation, served as co-chairman of the Presidential Committee to develop strategy and roadmap for universal Broadband Access for Nigeria. After the expiration of his second tenure, he left office and went into private practice.

Official duties

Ndukwe has served in numerous official capacities. Few of those include:

  • Chairman of the Administrative Council of the African Telecommunications Union
  • Chairman of the West African Telecom Regulators Assembly (WATRA)
  • Vice-Chairman of the Telecom Development Advisory Group of the International Telecommunications Union representing Nigeria
  • The Presidential Committee on job creation
  • Co-chairman of the Presidential Committee to develop Strategy and Roadmap for universal Broadband Access for Nigeria.

Awards and fellowships

Some of his notable awards and fellowships include:

  • Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic
  • Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers
  • Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management Technology
  • Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering.
  • Ndukwe is a recipient of the Zik’s prize for leadership Award
  • Distinguished Excellence Award by Nigeria IT Professionals in the Americas for outstanding contribution towards the improvement of the Communications Industry in Nigeria;
  • Distinguished Merit Award by the Nigerian Society of Engineers;
  • Distinguished Leadership Award by Leadership Watch organization for the transparent and professional handling of the digital mobile Licensing Auction;
  • Lagos Business School Alumni Association Award for outstanding contributions to the Telecommunications Industry;
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award by Obafemi Awolowo University Alumni Association;
  • Nigerian Achievers Award 2003 for outstanding contribution to the Communications industry;
  • Man of the Year Award 2002 and 2006 by Nigerian Information Technology and Telecom Awards (NIITA) for exemplary courage in presiding over the organisation of the most transparent spectrum auction exercise in Africa;
  • Obafemi Awolowo University Technology Hall of Fame Inductee 2005
  • 2006 Best Regulator of the year award by Thisday Newspapers, February 2007
  • Man of the Year Award 2007 by the National Daily Newspaper for his outstanding leadership role in the telecom industry.
  • Best Pan African Regulator of All Time Award by NITTA Awards in 2008
  • Award of Excellence For meritorious and Immense contribution to The Growth and Development of The Telecommunication Industry in Nigeria by The Justice Chambers, Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, 2008
  • African Regulator of the year for 2008 and 2009 by Satcom Stars Awards.
  • Certificate of excellence for outstanding contribution to public office by Africa Business Awards 2009 organised by African Business Magazine and the Commonwealth Business Council.
  • Obafemi Awolowo University Distinguished Alumni Award “ In Recognition of His Immense Contributions to ICT Development in Nigeria”

Dr Ndukwe is currently chairman of Openmedia Group as well as a part-time faculty at the Lagos Business School where he heads the Centre for Infrastructure Policy, Regulation and Advancement, CIPRA. He is also on the board of the ICT Research Africa Network. He was appointed as Independent Non-Executive Director of access bank Plc in 2013. He is also on the board of Systemspecs Ltd as a non-executive Director. He is currently the board chairman, MTN Nigeria. Dr Ndukwe is a recipient of five honorary doctorate degrees from various universities.

He was also decorated in 2014 at the World Telecom Development Conference (WTDC) with the ITU Gold Medal Award “in recognition of his important contribution to global Information and Communications Technologies and to the work of ITU


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Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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