March 17, 2024

NCC commits to safeguarding rights of telecom consumers


…Calls for responsible use of AI

By Emmanuel Elebeke

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC gas reiterated its resolve to protect the fundamental rights of telecommunications Consumers even with the advancement of Artificial Intelligence, AI technology.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Aminu Maida made the pledge at the 2024 World Consumer Rights Day held at the Commission’s Head Office in Maitama, Abuja.

With this year’s WCRD theme titled: Fair and Responsible AI for Telecom Consumer, he said “AI holds incredible potential to improve our lives, but it also challenges us to think critically about how we harness this power responsibly”.

Recall that every year, on March 15th, World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated to raise awareness about the rights of consumers worldwide and protect them from unfair trade practices.

He described telecom consumers as the most important part of any business that deserved protection.

“The Commission in alignment with the global trend adopted the theme for this year’s edition of World Consumer Rights Day as “Fair and Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the Consumer”.

“Our continuous resolve to Protect, Inform and Educate (PIE Mandate) the telecom consumer is unwavering, particularly as AI technologies continue to advance there is a need to foster innovation while safeguarding fundamental rights, values, and dignity of consumers.

“Consumers are the most important part of any business, and their protection is of the utmost importance”.

Also speaking on the theme, Maida, who was represented by the Executive Commissioner Designate, Technical Services, Engr. Abraham Oshadami, noted that “Using AI responsibly is crucial to guarantee consumer trust and circumvent possible problems.
Responsible AI means using it ethically throughout its development, deployment, and usage”.

According to him, responsible AI usage
will help in preventing biased decisions or discrimination thereby promoting inclusivity and equality.

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a phenomenon that has captured the imagination of scientists, engineers, and thinkers for decades.

“It represents the culmination of human innovation and the quest to create machines that can mimic human intelligence and problem-solving capabilities. AI has already made significant inroads into our lives. From voice assistants that respond to our commands to recommendation algorithms that suggest what we should watch, read, or buy, AI is all around us. It’s driving innovation in healthcare, finance, transportation, and countless other fields.

“Conversely, with inordinate power comes great obligation. As we celebrate the advancements in AI, we must also grapple with ethical questions. How do we ensure that AI systems are fair and unbiased? How do we protect privacy in an age of data-driven AI? These are complex issues that require careful consideration.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the Deputy Director, Consumer affaires Bureau, Clem Onife, said Commission recognizes the important position the consumers occupy in the telecommunications ecosystem and therefore will continue to develop and promote consumer-centric initiatives aimed at ensuring that the rights of consumers are protected.

“At the NCC, Telecom consumers are Kings because they provide the major drive and essence of our activities.”

He also said that consumer Education also forms a major tool for promoting consumer rights and therefore the Commission continues to engage with consumers and consumer issues using its various outreach programmes such as the Telecom Consumer Parliament, Telecom Consumer Conversations: Market Conversation, Village Square Dialogue, Campus Conversation, NYSC Camp Sensitization Town Hall on Radio.

“We have also published the Telecom Consumer Handbook and transcribed it into Braille for the Visually impaired.
Also, the Commission- is in the final process of deploying the Automated Consumer Complaints Management system, which will further expand the complaints channels and improve complaints resolutions even at the First level with Service Providers…
“The Consumers will continue to occupy a special position in the Commission’s activities because we recognize that without the Consumers, there will be no telecommunication industry.
On this note, please accept my warm welcome to the NCC 2024 Celebration of the World Consumer Rights Day.”

The World Consumer Rights Day is observed and celebrated on every 15th of March. This day is set aside to highlight the rights of consumers and protect them from exploitation, discrimination, and other forms of unfair practices.