The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reaffirmed its commitment to accelerate deployment of robust broadband infrastructure that would be accessible to all Nigerians.
According to the commission, this will enhance Nigerians have access to the required resources to carry out seamless digital financial services, irrespective of their locations and circumstances.
Speaking at the World Consumers’ Right Day in Abuja recently, the Chairman, Board of Commissioners of NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, said in line with the commission’s mandates, the board and management have been upbeat in implementing regulatory initiatives aimed at building a robust digital ecosystem to drive the frontier of digital economy with positive impacts on all other sectors of the nation’s economy.
Akande said considering the increasing number of telecoms consumers who are also users of digital financial 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.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the theme of this year’s WCRD aligns with the emerging realities of the regulatory goals of the commission.
He informed the audience that the commission is aware of the dynamic changes in the telecoms industry, stressing that the commission had consolidated on the growth in the telecommunications sector since the its liberalisation in 2001.
Danbatta stated that the growth in the telecoms industry has led to convergence in different sectors, especially between telecoms and financial service sector.
According to him, there is no greater demonstration of this than the fact that financial transactions that were once conducted in-person at banking halls are now undertaken on consumers’ mobile devices.
“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,” he said.
Danbatta declared that NCC embarked on various initiatives including the licensing of infrastructural 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.
“A 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,”Danbatta said.
The vice chairman further explained that the commission has been working hard to ensure that broadband penetration gets to every part of the country, asserting 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 per cent as at December 2021.
“Despite some of the challenges confronting the sector, telecommunications remained an enabler of growth in the Nigerian economy, in the year 2021. 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,” Danbatta said.
He also disclosed that the Commission has finalised arrangements to establish the Telecom 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.
He noted that 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.
The vice chairman added that the desk will complement other existing initiatives of the commission aimed at protecting the interest, privileges and rights of the consumers.
The Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, who 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 cyber space for digital service users in Nigeria.