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WCRD 2022: NCC assures of robust digital infrastructure for financial services, activates TELCARE

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of NCC

*The Nigerian Communications Commission, during the commemoration of 2022 World Consumer Rights Day, highlights the Commission’s efforts at protecting and enabling consumers of digital finance services on improved management of their finances in the economy

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As part of the Commission’s efforts at enhancing consumers’ access to seamless digital financial services, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reaffirmed its commitment to accelerating the deployment of robust Broadband infrastructure across the West African country.

ConsumerConnect reports the telecoms regulatory Commission Tuesday, March 15, 2022, stated this measure is meant to improve consumes’ access to the required resources to carry out seamless digital financial services, irrespective of their locations 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 Tuesday, in Abuja, FCT.

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In the context of the global theme: ‘Fair Digital Finance’, the NCC Management announced the establishment of a dedicate desk, tagged: “TELCARE” to be operated across the country to enhance telecoms consumer protection.

Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, noted that attendance and participation in 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, said Dr. Adinde.

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The Commission also said that the annual event held concurrently with roadshows it organised in Abuja and other NCC Zonal Offices in different parts of the country.

The objective of the activity, NCC stated, is to enlighten telecoms consumers on the significance of the World Consumer Rights Day, and engage them on the NCC’s unwavering commitment to consumer protection in the country’s telecoms ecosystem.

In his address on the occasion, Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman of Board of Commissioners of NCC, said in line with Commission’s mandates, the Board and Management had been upbeat in implementing regulatory initiatives.

Akande as well stated that these initiatives are aimed at building a robust digital ecosystem to drive the frontier of digital economy with positive impacts on all other sectors in the Nigerian economy.

Referencing the theme of the WCRD 2022, the NCC Board Chairman said considering the increasing number of telecoms consumers who are also users of digital finance services, the Commission is working assiduously to ensure that all consumers, including the most vulnerable, are provided with access to manage their finances, and protected from scams, fraud, and phishing to safeguard their data.

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Earlier in his keynote address, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)  of NCC,  said the theme of this year’s WCRD aligns with the emerging realities of the regulatory goals of the Commission in Nigeria.

Danbatta disclosed to the audience that the Commission is aware of the dynamic changes in the telecoms industry, even as the regulator consolidated the growth in the telecommunications sector since the  liberalisation of the industry 2001.

The growth in the telecoms industry has led to convergence in different sectors, especially between telecoms and financial service sector, the NCC EVC/CEO said.

According to him, there is no greater demonstration of this than the fact that financial transactions that were once conducted in-person in the banking halls are now undertaken on consumers’ mobile devices.

Danbatta further stated: “Financial and commercial activities have been digitised, and the most common of this is the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), which has brought ease to financial transactions.”

READ ALSO WCRD 2022: NCC Assures Of Robust Digital Infrastructure For Financial Services, Activates TELCARE

He declared that 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 (CBN).

According to Danbatta, the central objective of these initiatives is to ensure availability, accessibility and affordability of ubiquitous Broadband services to drive growth in all sectors, including financial services sector of the economy.

The Commission, he also explained, has been working hard to ensure that Broadband penetration gets to every part of the country.

Danbatta as well asserted that the number of active mobile subscriptions reached 195.4 million while Internet subscription has exceeded 141 million, because there has been increasing Broadband penetration, which stood at 40.88 percent as of December 2021.

He noted: “Despite some of the challenges confronting the sector, telecommunications remained an enablers of growth in the Nigerian economy, in the year 2021.

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“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.”

In ensuring consumer satisfaction, the NCC EVC/CEO said that the Commission had finalised arrangements to establish the Telecoms 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.

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, stated he.

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Danbatta also disclosed that new Desk will complement the regulator’s other existing initiatives aimed at protecting the interest, privileges and rights of the telecoms consumers.

Barr. Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, underscored the EVC/CEO’s submissions when he 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 with respect to 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), telecoms operators, among other stakeholders, commended the Commission for all its consumer-centric initiatives, and assured of their continuing collaboration towards creating a safer cyberspace for digital service users in Nigeria.

Roadshows for telecoms consumer sensitisation, education

In a related development as part of activities marking the 2022 World Consumer Rights Day, the NCC Tuesday organised roadshows across Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory to sensitise Nigerian telecoms consumers about their rights.

It was gathered the roadshows, which kicked off from the Commission’s headquarters proceeded to Emab Plaza, Gwarinpa Market, and Wuse Market among other places in Abuja.

RELATED: Telecoms Regulator’s Central Mandate Is To Ensure Consumer Protection ─NCC

Consumers were informed of their right to be informed, right to safety, right to choose, right to be heard, right to privacy, right to timely installation, restoration, and repair services, and right to timely and responsive customer service, among other rights of consumers.

NCC activates TELCARE initiative

Meanwhile, in commemorating the 2022 WCRD, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC,  said that the Commission has finalised arrangements to establish the Telecoms Consumer Assistance, Resolution, and Enquires (TELCARE) Desk, at strategic locations across the  country to provide information to telecoms consumers.

Prof. Danbatta stated: “The TELCARE desk is to serve as an additional platform to receive and facilitate the resolution of consumer complaints; provide a means through which consumers and citizens can make inquiries on consumer issues; provide a platform for advocacy on any thematic consumer issue or concerns, and further enhance awareness of the Commission’s activities.”

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The EVC/CEO, who commissioned the prototype TELCARE concept Tuesday also disclosed the NCC plans to have help desks located at strategic places at Nigerian airports, with the desk in the Arrival Lounge of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.

Danbatta further noted that in the Commission’s effort at protecting telecoms consumers, the regulator’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT) periodically, has notified consumers of the latest cybersecurity threats and how to avoid falling victim to them.

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NCC-CSIRT has been at the forefront of protecting telecom consumers from cyber threats, stated he.

He noted that the provision of timely advisories has helped to protect consumers from being unfairly targeted by cyberattacks.

The NCC Chief added this effort goes a long way in ensuring that consumers can access digital services without suffering unwarranted losses in the country’s ecosystem.

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