…Sets up TELCARE desk to enhance consumer protection
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reaffirmed its commitment to accelerate the deployment of robust broadband infrastructure accessible to all Nigerians to enhance their access to the required resources to carry out seamless digital financial services, irrespective of their location and circumstances.
The commission gave the assurance at a programme organised to commemorate the 2022 World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) at the commission’s head office in Abuja themed “Fair Digital Finance”. Also, the management of the commission announced the establishment of a dedicated desk, ‘TELCARE’ to enhance telecoms consumer protection across the nation.
Attendance and participation at the event, operated in-person and virtually, was overwhelming. Board members, senior management and staff of the commission, collaborating agencies and other critical industry stakeholders were among the participants. The event also ran concurrently with a roadshow carried out in Abuja and other NCC zonal offices in different parts of the country, to enlighten telecom consumers on the significance of the WCRD and to engage them on the NCC’s unwavering commitment to consumer protection.
Speaking at the event, the chairman, NCC Board of Commissioners, Prof. Adeolu Akande said in line with NCC’s mandates, the board and management have been upbeat in implementing regulatory initiatives aimed at building a robust digital ecosystem to drive the frontier of the digital economy with positive impacts on all other sectors of the nation’s economy.
According to Akande, considering the increasing number of telecom consumers who use digital finance services, the commission is working assiduously to ensure that all consumers are provided with access to manage their finances and protected from scams, fraud and phishing to safeguard their data.
Earlier in his keynote address, the executive vice chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the theme of this year’s WCRD aligns with the emerging realities of the regulatory goals of the commission. He informed the audience that the commission is aware of the dynamic changes in the telecom industry, even as the commission consolidated the growth in the telecommunication sector since the sector’s liberalisation in 2001.
Danbatta stated that the growth in the telecom industry has led to a convergence in different sectors, especially between telecoms and financial service sectors. According to him, a good example is that financial transactions once conducted in-person at banking halls can now be undertaken on consumers’ mobile devices. “Financial and commercial activities have been digitized and the most common of these is the unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) which has eased financial transactions,” he said.
Danbatta declared that the NCC embarked on various initiatives including the licensing of infrastructure companies (InfraCos), effective utilisation of spectrum, industry collaboration to address operators’ challenges, increased collaborations with relevant government agencies such as the Central Bank of Nigeria. A central objective of these initiatives is to ensure the availability, accessibility and affordability of ubiquitous broadband services to drive growth in all sectors, including the financial services sector.
“Despite some of the challenges confronting the sector, telecommunications remained an enabler of growth in the Nigerian economy in 2021. The information and communications sector contributed over N17 trillion to the nominal gross domestic product (GDP), according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics,” Danbatta said.
Also, consistent with NCC’s focus to ensure that consumers get satisfaction, Danbatta disclosed that the commission had finalised arrangements to establish the Telecom Consumer Assistance, Resolution and Enquiries (TELCARE) desk. The desk, he said, will be strategically located in different parts of the county to serve as an additional platform to receive and facilitate the resolution of consumer complaints
According to him, the desk will also provide a means through which consumers and citizens can make inquiries on consumer issues; provide a platform for advocacy on any topical consumer issues and concerns, and further enhance awareness of the commission’s activities. He said the desk will complement other existing initiatives of the commission aimed at protecting the interest, privileges and rights of the consumers.
The EVC’s submissions were underscored by the commission’s executive commissioner, stakeholder management, Adeleke Adewolu, who declared that the theme of the WCRD is a reminder that “we all have the responsibility to protect the consumer from market abuses, exploitation, and injustices that erode the consumer’s rights, especially concerning using digital financial services”.
Representatives of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), CBN, Association of Licensed Telecom Operators (ALTON), the Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF), National Disability Empowerment Forum (NDEF), telecom operators, among other stakeholders, commended the commission for all its consumer-centric initiatives and assured of their continuing collaboration towards creating safer cyberspace for digital service users in Nigeria.
Earlier, as part of the activities slated for this year’s commemoration of the WCRD, the NCC had, on March 14, organised a debate for secondary school students in Abuja. The debate focused on how the students use mobile devices to enhance their academic performances. The commission seized the opportunity of the debate to enlighten the students on their rights and privileges and to discuss other activities of the commission.