World consumer right day: NCC Calls for building digital world for consumers

By Sarauniya Usman,Abuja

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta,emphasised the need to build ‘a robust digital world consumers can trust’.

He made the call at a Conference is organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to commemorate the WORLD CONSUMER RIGHTS DAY (WCRD) for the year 2021.

He said the Commission was worried by the recurrent cycle of fraudulent deployment of fake and substandard mobile devices – usually made of iron and plastic components, collaborated with the Office of the National Security Adviser and other relevant government agencies to inaugurate a committee to implement Mobile Devices Management Systems (DMS).

The Consumer Rights Day is observed every 15th day of March. in recognition of the central place the consumer occupies in the telecom ecosystem and in the emergent digital economy.

In the same year, the World Consumer Rights Day focused on “Better Digital World”. The declaration by the Commission and the focus by WCRD 2017 emphasised the need to build ‘a digital world consumers can trust’.

With the theme: For World Consumer Rights Day for 2021 is, “Tackling Plastic Pollution”. Activities and actions slated for this commemoration are to raise awareness and engage state and non-state actors on the global plastic pollution crisis. This is coming THREE years after the NCC drafted the NIGERIAN COMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY E-WASTE REGULATIONS in 2018.

The objective of the Regulation is to manage E-Waste; promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery; improve environmental management system of operators in the telecom industry; and reduce greenhouse emissions as well as enhance sustainable development efforts.

“These goals speak to the imperative of adhering to practices that enhance Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production; as well as Climate Action respectively”.

“This initiative is designed as a Public-Private Partnership aimed at combating the proliferation of fake, counterfeit, substandard and cloned communication devices in the telecom – munications industry”.

He said, in reconnecting with the theme for this Year’s celebration, bears restating, that, while the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is concluding processes to issue the regulation on Electronic Waste, it is mindful of the fact that many ICT and telecom devices have plastic components, whose waste materials could worsen plastic pollution.

“we reckon that improper disposal of such disused ICT-plastic embedded products have grave implication on public health, and especially in achieving Goals 11, 12 and 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030”.

NCC Boss, reiterate that the Commission are designed to give assurance to the consumers that their interests are of paramount importance to the Commission. This is because without the telecom consumers, there will be no telecom operators and there would be no regulator.

Therefore, “we seize this opportunity to assure millions of telecom consumers across the country that the Commission will not rest on its oars until the challenges of telecoms consumers have been reduced to the barest minimum”.

NCC seeks the occasion of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day to restate its commitment to Protecting, Informing and Educating the telecoms consumer.

We call this our PIE Mandate to the consumers which embodies our philosophical commitment to strengthening all our consumer-centric initiatives and policies.

NCC is aligning with the philosophy of this day to reiterate its commitment towards providing accurate, adequate and timely information and education that enables the consumer to take informed decisions and feel protected.

On behalf of the Board, Management and staff of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),He thanked the media for honoring the invitation; and for being a consistent partner to the Commission in diffusing information about activities of the Commission promptly and in contexts that make meaning to the telecom consumers, the general public and other stakeholders.

According to him,the conference is conceived to highlight NCC’s commitment to protecting the telecom consumers and to highlight the regulatory role of NCC with respect to protecting the Rights of the Telecom Consumers and to connect it with the global significance of today’s celebration.

He recall the initiatives by the Commission, was meant to spotlight how the Commission’s vision interconnects with the international consumer rights movement.

He listed steps taken by the Commission that have direct bearing to the theme of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day.

He said the Commission has also implemented a strict type-approval process that ensures all equipment used in the telecommunications industry are of a suitable standard, both for the good of the consumers and for the preservation of our environment.

This coincidental connection between the 2021 theme for World Consumer Rights Day, “Tackling Plastic Pollution”, and the proactive initiatives of the Commission towards protecting the environment as well as efforts on tackling electronic waste in Nigeria tells the story of a shared vision for a satisfied consumer.

On Consumer-centric Regulations,he said
The Nigerian Communications Act 2003 – enjoins the Commission to protect the interest of the consumers, which the Commission has done religiously, through subsidiary legislations, guidelines and directions that proactively address consumer concerns and stipulate responsibilities of all stakeholders.

“We had made declarations to curtail excesses of some operators and to expand the frontiers of freedom for the consumers. Warnings had been handed out and fines have been imposed on erring operators. Determinations have also been made by the Commission to ensure consumers are neither shortchanged nor denied their privileges and rights”.

The NCC demonstrated the foregoing to reveal the extent it could go to defend and protect the interests of telecom consumers; and to successively restate its commitment to its ethos of fairness, firmness and forthrightness – the doctrinal tripod of its regulatory mandate.

The Commission has ensured full compliance with Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards registration guidelines by the service providers and telecom consumers. This is to ensure proper registration to stop the use of improperly-registered SIMs, which usage is difficult to track.

Having a credible subscriber database helps in tracing a SIM card to the real owner in case of any criminal investigation. This will help in curbing the painful rise in tempo of kidnapping, robberies, banditry and similar crimes committed with the aid of the use of SIM cards.

We have made arrests and prosecutions in the past in this regard and through this effort, we have been able to sanitise the telecoms ecosystem of improperly-registered SIM cards that pose threat to national security.

It is therefore pertinent to say that the linking of SIM and National Identity Number (NIN) database will further help us in this direction toward protecting the consumers and all citizens at large. In this regard, the Commission wishes to echo the voice of Mr. President by thanking all telecom subscribers for their understanding and co-operation in the ongoing SIM-NIN harmonisation exercise.

The Commission has issued a number of Directions to service providers in order to ensure consumers are not shortchanged by telecom service providers. Some of the directions include: Direction on Do-Not-Disturb, Direction on Data Roll-Over, Direction on Automatic Renewal of Data Services, and Direction on Forceful Subscription to Data Services and Value-Added Services.

“The Management of the Commission also takes consumer information and education very seriously. Just recently, it approved the re-structuring of our legacy consumer outreach and engagement programmes”. End…

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