Today’s event emphasizes the position of Lagos state as the telecommunications hub of Nigeria. The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics in its 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 is has been selected as the flag off city after the major event in Abuja on March 15 2017.
The NCC 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer is remarkable because the Nigerian Telecom Consumer is center stage. We must also remember that these consumers together have made all the success stories we speak about possible in the telecom industry today.
Almost two months ago (March 15) NCC flagged off a national campaign of the Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer at its Headquarters in Abuja. Sixty days hence, I am glad, we can report some progress resulting in increase in the activation of the Do-Not-Disturb short code using the 2442 facility, by more than one million consumers in this short span. More subscribers reported their unresolved complaints using NCC’s 622 toll-free lines in the same period.
NCC Consumer Conversations are going on simultaneously every month in six zones across the country. Our famous faces of the Telecom Consumer, Comedienne Helen Paul and Actor Ali Nuhu are on board to sensitize consumers in this regard.
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.
In 2017, and even beyond, the Consumer will be our focus. NCC intends to inform and educate the consumer with the sole intent of protecting and empowering them to make the right decisions.
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 the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) launched an 8-Point Agenda. The agenda, which drives the NCC until 2020 aims, among other things, to:
1. Facilitate Broadband Penetration;
2. Improve Quality of Service;
3. Optimize Usage and Benefits of Spectrum;
4. Promote ICT Innovation and Investment Opportunities;
5. Facilitate Strategic Collaboration and Partnership;
6. Protect and Empower Consumers;
7. Promote Fair Competition and Inclusive Growth and
8. Ensure Regulatory Excellence and Operational Efficiency.
Item two, Improve quality of service and item six are the core drivers of the NCC year of the consumer initiative.
Item six of the agenda is Protecting and Empowering Consumers. The goal 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 whenever 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 programmes; as well as effective policies and strategies that promote effective and efficient telecoms service delivery."
The Year of the Consumer will therefore focus on two key areas: improving the Quality of Service; Protecting and Educating the Consumer. To address the unsolicited calls received by consumers, the NCC has introduced the Do Not Disturb (DND) facility where consumers are urged to activate the facility by texting 2442. There is also the 622 number for the NCC customer toll free complaint line. NCC intends to increase the awareness level and equally the activation level of these two initiatives.
In its determination to ensure that the Consumer experiences improved Quality of Service in the year and beyond, the Commission is implementing measures to ensure Drop Call Rate reduces and meets its industry benchmark of less than one percent (<1% DCR) target. The Commission is closely monitoring, tracking and reviewing the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of operators by the Network Integrity and Technical Standards Department. Greater efforts would also be put in place for compliance monitoring and enforcement of set standards. The Commission will also enlighten consumers about the environmental impact of telecom infrastructure.
A robust media campaign is already taking place, which through the year will provide unique and timely information to all consumers.
As part of efforts to realize NCC 2017 Year of the Consumer, I have convened a meeting with MNOs and infrastructure providers to demand that the quality of services must be improved upon immediately. This is to ensure that the consumer gets value for money and gets satisfactory user experience.
There are sanctions for failing to meet KPIs. NCC will not hesitate to enforce them and might consider making them even more stringent.
NCC is mindful of the forex challenge faced by the telcos. We have intervened with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Already this intervention is beginning to yield some results. We are sure that in the not too distant future, the forex challenge will be addressed to the benefit of both the consumer and the operators.
When the year is ended, the NCC should be able to measure the success and impact of this initiative by the level of awareness created among consumers and the number of consumers that have activated the 2442 facility. It is my hope that the Nigerian telecom consumer would consistently get the right quality experience and value for money.
Professor Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, read this speech at the inauguration of 2017 Year of Consumers in Lagos last week