By Emeka Aginam & Tare Youdeowei
THE Nigerian Bureau of Statistics in its first quarter telecommunications sector report for 2016 put Lagos voice subscriber base at 19.04 million or 12.8 per cent of the country’s subscribers and 12.62 million internet subscriptions or 13.65 per cent, hence, the state is home to many key players in the sector. It is based on this that the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has selected Lagos as the flag off city for the NCC 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer.
Two months ago, NCC flagged off a national campaign of the Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer at its headquarters in Abuja, and said progress has been recorded. “There is progress which is visible in the 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 the six zones of the country and this is because 2017 is dedicated to the Nigerian Telecom Consumer. Following a management decision, the commission is set to amplify the year’s activities towards ensuring that the consumer enjoys a customer experience that is enhanced, consistent, timely and of high 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,” said Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, at the Lagos flag of the NCC 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer, in Ikeja, Wednesday.
Reiterating the customer satisfaction orientation of the commission, Danbatta stated that 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.
Drop Call Rate
“In its determination to ensure that the Consumer experiences improved quality 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 target. The Commission is also 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. There are sanctions for failing to meet KPIs. NCC will not hesitate to enforce them and might consider making them even more stringent.
Do Not Disturb code
“In this light, 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 via nationwide awareness creation.”
With core drivers; improved quality service and protecting and empowering consumers, the NCC year of the consumer initiative has recorded success stories. Sunday Ogunade, a subscriber spoke on the timely resolution of issues. “I had issues with my network for two weeks. Then I decided to try the NCC. I went to their office in Ikoyi and they told me to send a mail to the network and copy NCC. Three days later they got back to me and the network was all over me trying to resolve the issue. The issue was resolved but I felt it will happen again but I ported to another network. Even after the issue had been resolved the NCC still kept in touch to ensure the network was not giving me issues. I cannot believe this could happen in Nigeria.”
So did Adebola Adedeji who shared; “In January my phone was stolen. Immediately I called my network provider and told them to block the line. They didn’t and the thief used it to transfer money from my account. I kept contacting them to block the line but we kept going back and forth for one month. I remember the NCC and decided to try them. Immediately I got a reply from NCC Lagos and later, Abuja. Within three days the network blocked the line, the money that was removed from my account was returned and I was compensated with bonus data and airtime. A week later NCC got back to me to ensure I was satisfied. It was amazing to finally get results.”
On forex, the Commission disclosed that; “the NCC is mindful of the forex challenge faced by the telcos. We have intervened with the Central Bank of Nigeria. Already, this intervention is yielding 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.”
Speaking for the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, Hon Tunde Braimoh said; “There are over 152 million subscribers, 20 million of this number is in Lagos. This underscores why the state government supports NCC, but particularly because we are interested in the happiness of our people. NCC has a refreshing idea to build an automatic regulatory system that does not practice favouritism in serving the public. Let’s make people more aware, make our messages more pedestrian son everyone can identify with it.”