Despite the biting economic recession, statistics have shown that Nigeria’s telecoms consumers spent $6.6bn (N2tn) in 2016.
The figure is $1bn more than $5.6bn spent by the country’s telecoms consumers in 2015.
The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, made the figures available at the 2017 Nigeria Telecoms Consumer Forum.
He said, “In 2015, Nigerian telecoms consumers spent a whopping $5.6bn on telecommunications services. And in 2016, they topped it up by another $1bn to make it $6.6bn.”
Danbatta said the NCC took “a management decision that compels us to seek to amplify our activities towards ensuring the consumer enjoys a customer experience that is enhanced and content in time and quality.”
He said, “The patronage of the consumer is important and the NCC acknowledges this; that is why in 2017 and, I dare say and even beyond, the consumer will be our focus.”
According to him, the NCC intends to inform and educate the consumers with the sole intent of protecting and empowering them to make the right decisions.
“The telecoms weak link, rightly or wrongly, is the consumer,” Danbatta said, adding that there were no small consumers as those buying N200 worth of card and those spending N100,000 were equal.
Danbatta’s eight-point agenda, which he launched in Lagos on January 27, 2016 and in Kano on February 12, 2016, aptly captured the consumer.
The eight-point agenda was given as facilitating broadband penetration; improvng quality of service; optimising usage and benefits of spectrum; promoting 19 innovation and investment opportunities; facilitating strategic collaboration and partnership; protecting and empowering consumers; promoting fair competition and inclusive growth; and ensuring regulatory excellence and operational efficiency.
The NCC executive vice chairman, therefore, said that the goal of the eight-point agenda was to protect the consumers from unfair practices by providing information and education to them.
“This is being actively pursued by strengthening initiatives to educate and inform consumers in their use of communications services and act swiftly whenever necessary in the use of enforcement to protect telecom services consumers’ rights and privileges,” he said.
On the menace of unsolicited telemarketing whereby consumers received unsolicited text messages and calls, Danbatta said, “The NCC has introduced the ‘Do Not Disturb’ facility where consumers are expected to activate the same by dialling 2442.”
According to him, part of the plan to actualise the year of Nigerian Telecoms Consumer is the determination of the NCC to ensure that the consumer experiences improved quality of service in the year 2017 and beyond.
It was gathered that the commission was also implementing measures to reduce dropped call rate to meet its industry benchmark of less than one per cent.
“It will closely monitor, track and review the Key Performance Indicators of operators by network integrity and technical standards. Greater efforts will also be put in compliance, monitoring and enforcement of set standards,” Danbatta said.
The NCC has had meetings with the operators “to demand that quality of services must be improved upon immediately.”
“There is also the 622 number for the NCC customer-complaint line. The NCC intends to increase the awareness level and equally the activation level of these two initiatives,” the EVC said.
Danbatta allayed the fears of other stakeholders in the sector, adding, “Our focus on the consumer this year does not in any way suggest neglect of the other stakeholders in the sector. Rather, it suggests a commitment to consumer satisfaction. The NCC is driven by the desire to empower the consumer and it is rolling out new initiatives to achieve this.”
The Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare, provided further insights into the significance of the declaration.
He said many would want to ask why the NCC 2017 focused on the Nigerian telecom consumers. “A loaded question, no doubt. I will attempt to provide a quick answer using the five Ws and H that guided me through my career as a media and communications professional. They are the why, when, where, what and who,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, has commended the commission for the timely declaration.
He said, “The theme for the World Consumer Right Day 2017 is ‘Building a digital world consumers can trust’. It is, therefore, very apt for the NCC to declare 2017 the year of the Nigerian Telecoms Consumer since the theme of the 2017 WCRD celebration falls within the purview of the NCC regulatory activities and oversight functions on the telecom industry.”