Nigeria’s telecommunication’s regulatory body, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had on March 15, 2017, declared 2018 as year of the “Telecom Consumer”. It adopted same as its theme for the year and worked to enthrone the consumer as king of the booming telecommunication industry.
The commission identified four key component issues to further drive the success of the year’s agenda. They were the “Do Not Disturb (DND) services; the NCC toll free line; improving quality of service (QoS) and electromagnetic fields (EMF) radiation”. To ensure consumers are carried along in the campaign, the commission launched a consumer town hall meeting (CTM), a forum for massive engagement, enlightenment and sensitisation of consumers of their rights and benefits.
The campaign also saw the launch of the telecom consumer parliament (TCP), a forum that was dedicated for consumers of telecom products and services to interface with operators, key players in the industry and the regulatory body.
Why consumer as king?
The executive vice chairman of the commission, Prof Umar Danbata, while speaking on the recipe for the year’s theme, said the year of the telecom consumer is to empower consumers on key areas such as the awareness on the 622-toll free line to escalate unresolved complaints and the 2442 short code to stop unsolicited messages, adding the commission was deeply committed to quality of service.
“The consumers have the right to be knowledgeable about the services they are subscribing to so that they will not be cheated in any way. The essence of the campaign is to enlighten the consumers on their rights and privileges and if it is abused by the service providers, they should be aware of the complaint procedures and if no amicable resolution is reached they have the right to come back to NCC so that we take it up from there,” he declared.
NCC’s executive commissioner (stakeholder management), Mr Sunday Dare, on his part, stated that the year of the consumer campaign is significant because it was the first time the NCC singled out the consumer and dedicated a year of activities towards safeguarding the rights, protecting the interests, and empowering the consumer to make informed decisions.
“The consumer is one of the key stakeholders in the stakeholder ladder of the NCC. With a base of over 154 million subscribers, the Nigerian consumers dominate the African telecommunications landscape,” he asserted.
Similarly, the NCC’s head of zonal operations, Helen Obi, said the declaration of the year of the telecom consumer was also in tandem with the eight-point agenda of the commission to ensure consumer empowerment and education. The year, she pointed out, saw the commission engage more with telecom consumers, sensitizing them on the key components of the campaign.
Highlighting on these components, she referred to the activation of the ‘Do Not Disturb’ (DND) service across all telecom networks. “This service enables the consumer to stop receiving unwanted and unsolicited messages from telecom operators. A consumer is expected to send “STOP“ to 2442, if he/she intends to stop receiving all forms of text messages and to send HELP to 2442 to be availed with all the options on areas which the subscriber may wish to receive text messages,” she stated, adding the NCC toll free line 622 enables consumers to report complaints pertaining to unresolved issues with their service providers.
Speaking on the QoS, Obi said the commission had put in place some key performance indicators (KPIs) which help the regulator to rate performance of the telecom operators, adding the commission also has stringent sanctions.
Was the consumer recognised and treated as king?
The year of the consumer as king actually saw Nigerian telecom consumers taking their rightful place in the sector. With NCC’s enhanced sensitisation and education on their rights and privileges, consumers who were hitherto suspicious, confused and sceptical of telecom services, after the NCC announcement, began to understand the principles behind the campaign. Consumers took advantage of various forums organised by the commission to interface first hand with mobile network operators and had their network related issues resolved.
The year also witnessed a huge utilization of the DND short code by millions of consumers, making their choice on what kind of messages they want to receive from MNOs rather than be victims and inundated by unsolicited messages. The consumers also heavily used the NCC’s 622 toll-free lines to report unresolved issues to the commission and got rapid response to their queries and complaints.
It can be said without equivocation that with the close of activities in 2018, the Nigerian telecommunication landscape saw the consumers truly take their place as kings, taking advantage of their rights and privileges as key players in the sector.
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