Consumer-centric initiatives and telecoms sector’s growth | The Guardian Nigeria NewsDecember 4, 2019
Globally, the telecom sector is passing through some tough times. Changing dynamics of business environment have been reshaping the strategic framework within which telecom companies have been operating. Higher attrition rate, price war, government regulations, increased customer choices, low switching costs have once again brought the customers at the centre stage of business strategies of telecom companies at both local and global level.
These challenges are not just for the service providers; even the regulatory environment has not been sared. Lately, in Nigeria, stakeholders have wondered where the autonomy of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) lies, following some regulatory infractions on the part of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
It however, must be said that these infractions boil down on the need for customers to be accorded the respect they deserve in the sector.
A critical look at Section 104-106 of the Nigerian Communication Act mandates the NCC, to protect telecoms consumers. Although as a regulator, NCC has introduced several strategies in the last five years to protect telecoms subscribers, it is believed that the regulator needs to do more in the area of consumer-centric initiatives that will reposition the sector for improved performance.
The telecoms regulator is expected, according to Section 104 to protect consumers against issues including poor service quality, fast depletion of data, unsolicited text messages, high cost of mobile broadband, among others.
Consumer complaints rising
The Guardian checks showed that subscribers nationwide lodged 19,977 complaints against Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), between January and October this year.
The grievances, which were reported on four dedicated channels of the NCC, had to do with billing; call centre/customer care; quality of service/experience, sales promotions and advertisement, among others. Billing issues include an unexplained change in the account balance and the inability to change tariff plans.
Concerning customer care, subscribers decried their inability to connect to help lines; alleged nonchalant attitude of agents; incorrect response from agents and other infractions. Regarding quality of service in respect of voice and data, telephone users complained of call interference; inability to receive calls; call divert; call barring; persistent data depletion; poor signal/no network to mention a few.
However, efforts have been put in place by the NCC to checkmate some of these lapses. Checks showed that the NCC has deepened efforts on its Protect, Inform and Educate (PIE) mandate. Through its various outreach programmes such as the Consumer Town Hall Meeting (CTM), Consumer Outreach Programme (COP) and the Telecoms Consumer Parliament (TCP), the commission has educated thousands of the consumers across the nooks and crannies of the country, in a bid to empower the telecoms consumer.
In 2017, the…