By Patrick Aigbokhan
The Nigerian Telecommunications Commission (NCC) has finally launched its 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer initiative in Lagos, aimed at curbing the influx of unsolicited voice calls and text messages into the lines of mobile phones networks subscribers in the country.
With the development, the commission also assures all telecommunications services consumers of enhanced Quality of Service (QoS) that would compliment the purpose of the newly launched initiative.
Speaking at the launch of the initiative held on Wednesday at Blue Roof, LTV Complex, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, who noted that the event emphasizes the position of Lagos state as the telecommunications hub of Nigeria, also described the NCC 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer as remarkable because it is a centre stage, saying, “we must also remember that these consumers together have made possible all the success stories we speak about today in the telecom industry.”
Danbatta said, “Today’s event emphasises the position of Lagos state as the telecommunications hub of Nigeria. The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics in the first quarter telecommunications sector report for 2016 placed Lagos voice subscriber base at 19.04 million or 12.8% of the country’s subscribers and 12.62 million Internet subscription or 13.65%.
The state is home to many of the key players in the telecommunications sector, so, it is understandable that it has been selected as the flag-off city after the major event in Abuja on March 15, 2017.”
According to him, the year 2017 is dedicated to the Nigerian Telecom Consumer, following a management decision that compels NCC to seek to amplify the year’s activities towards ensuring that the consumer enjoys a customer experience that is enhanced and consistent in time and quality.
The EVC further stated that, in 2017 and beyond, the consumer will be the focus of NCC as the commission intends to inform and educate the consumer with the sole intent to protecting and empowering them to make the right decision.
Danbatta said, “As a regulator, NCC has the mandate to ensure all its key stakeholders are protected and their interests balanced in an atmosphere of fairness, transparency and within the framework of the NCA 2003 and other subsidiary legislations.
“Indeed, almost one year ago, NCC launched an 8-Point Agenda. The agenda, which drives the NCC until 2020 aims, among other things, to facilitate broadband penetration; improve quality of service; optimize usage and benefits of spectrum; promote ICT innovation and investment opportunities; facilitate strategic collaboration and partnership; protect and empower consumers; promote fair competition and inclusive growth, and ensure regulatory excellence and operational efficiency.
“Item two on the agenda, which is to improve quality of service, and item six, which is to protect and empower consumers, are the core drivers of the NCC year of the consumer initiative. The goal of item six is to protect consumers from unfair practices through availability of information and education required to make informed choices in the use of telecom services. This is being actively pursued by strengthening initiatives , to educate and inform consumers in their use of the services and acting swiftly and consistently where necessary in the use of enforcement to protect telecom services, consumers’ rights and privileges.
“As key stakeholders, the consumers are therefore at the core of the 8-Point Agenda and the regulatory activities of the NCC.
In this regard, the Consumer Affairs Bureau of the Commission has the mandate to ensure the protection of the rights, privileges and interests of telecommunications consumers, including the physically challenged groups through adequate information dissemination programs, as well as effective policies and strategies that promote effective and efficient telecoms service delivery.”
Also speaking at the event, Mr. Sunday Dare, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC, confirmed the initiative as derivative of the commission’s 8-Point Agenda leveraging on the two key components of improving QoS, and informing and empowering consumers.
He said, “The telecom consumer embraces for us at NCC the various stakeholders we were mandated by the NCA 2003 to protect, inform and educate. Beyond the individual consumer who uses multiple operations and hence lines, we have in the stakeholder matrix other consumers such as the state governments, the National Assembly, MDAS, among others.”
Dare noted that the NCC seeks an inclusive approach as stipulated in its Corporate Code of Governance for the Telecommunications industry, which states inter alia that this inclusive approach recognises that the licensee’s long term interests are best served by an appropriate consideration of the legitimate expectations and interests of key stakeholders.
However the drivers of the NCC 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer are the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb Service, the 622 toll free complaints line, QoS and Electromagnetic Field are the areas that the information provided in the course of the campaign would focus on.
“Already, NCC has deployed several activities in its strategic plan to run a successful year of the consumer campaign with the support of the operators. Across the country, the grassroots oriented NCC Consumer Conversations now take place in six locations simultaneously once every month. Road shows, radio jingles, town hall meetings and a medley of consumer outreach programmes are ongoing.
Continuous monitoring of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and benchmarking is ongoing on a quarterly basis to ensure that the quality of service does not deteriorate.
“By the same token, the NCC will continue to engage the Mobile Service Operators (MNOs) and other critical stakeholders in a constructive way to ensure that quality of service across board is achieved and the level of awareness and activation of the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb facility, 622 awareness and educating the consumer about the environment and health impact of the telecoms infrastructure and type of phones approved for use take centre stage,” the Executive Commissioner said.