The twin launch of 2017: Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer campaign in Abuja on March 15 and Lagos on May 17 by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has stood out as defining moments in the history of the nation’s telecom. The concept of making the consumer the focal point of attention this year by the regulator further indexes much held notion that NCC is by far the most consumer-centric public agency in Nigeria.
The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, said the campaign was a fallout of his 8-point agenda and seeks to ensure that the consumer enjoys a customer experience that is enhanced and consistent in time and quality. In its quest to take the campaign to all nooks and crannies of the country, the regulator engaged the services of two highly distinguished and respected personalities in the nation’s entertainment industry: Helen Paul and Ali Nuhu. They are the faces of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer.
Within the barely 60 days between the Abuja and Lagos launch, Nigerian telecom consumers seemed to have bought into the initiative as attested to by the EVC. "Almost two months ago (March 15) NCC flagged off a national campaign of the Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer at its Headquarters in Abuja. Sixty days hence, I am glad we can report some progress resulting in increase in the activation of the Do-Not-Disturb short code using the 2442 facility, by more than one million consumers in this short span. More subscribers reported their unresolved complaints using NCC’s 622 toll-free lines in the same period.
"NCC Consumer Conversations are going on simultaneously every month in six zones across the country. Our famous faces of the Telecom Consumer, Comedienne Helen Paul and Actor Ali Nuhu are on board to sensitize consumers in this regard," he said.
In his pitch at the Lagos launch, the Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management of the NCC, Mr Sunday Dare said the campaign will run through the year 2017 and beyond. He said NCC will seek, on a continuous basis, to engage and explore ways to make consumer experience more satisfying within the Nigerian telecoms industry.
"We want both the inbound and outbound call experience to get to a higher standard such that wherever you are calling from, be it from Kano to Kotongora, from Ado-Ekiti to Abuja, from Lagos to Lokoja, from Dutse to Damaturu, Enugu to Yenagoa, and from London to Lagos - NCC wants the consumer to experience good quality of service".
And like a vision whose time has come, various stakeholders in the industry have passionately endorsed the campaign. From operators through consumer advocacy groups to the real consumers, there was fervent outpouring of commendation for the regulator for initiating a campaign that would revive consumer confidence in the marketplace. Below are a few of the solidarity messages:
ATCON (Association of Telecommunications Company of Nigeria represented by its President, Engr. Olusola Teniola)
"Without the voice of the consumer we cannot have a vibrant industry; so we as operators are always looking for feedback either negative or positive to always improve the way we deliver services, how we communicate with the consumers and also to address some of the various multifaceted concerns.
"Some of the areas that I know that is pressing on the minds of consumers are the Do Not Disturb (DND), call drops and unfair charges. These are things that can only be addressed if you have the voice of the consumer. Naturally and actually, the relationship between each operator and the consumer should be favourable and amicable; though there are times there are even more difficult issues to address and I think that NCC by coming up with this initiative and creating this platform for both providers, consumers and other stakeholders to voice their concerns and opinions is a positive one.
"We as service providers are always looking to provide service that is beneficial for all Nigerians; especially in Lagos State because we know that it is one of the key states in terms of its contribution to the economy".
SPECTRANET (represented by the Managing Director David Venn)
"This is a great event for consumers and operators as well. It gives us the opportunity to speak and hear directly from consumers in terms of what they want. It’s a great way to interact within the industry. My understanding of the Nigerian consumer market is that Nigerian consumers are quite different from what I’ve seen elsewhere in one respect; Nigerian consumers love brands and appreciate quality so much than I have seen elsewhere.
"When the operators look to put together their services and prices there are lots of factors coming to that. If you satisfy your customer they’ll stick with you and they won’t look for alternatives unless you fail them.
"I have seen that a number of the customers of the mobile phone companies have moved operators and to me that’s an indication that they’re not happy with what they’re getting. I think it’s a great initiative by the NCC; The Year of the Consumer which is a vital focus on the consumer.
"As issues come up in the industry we meet with the NCC as individuals or as an industry to discuss issues and they’re very much on the same page in terms of understanding what is needed to build a good and strong industry that is good for the consumer and competition too.
"I have worked with regulators in so many markets and I have never seen a regulator that is so engaged with consumers as the NCC in Nigeria".
ALTON (Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria led by its Chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo)
"The initiative by the NCC is excellent and highly welcomed because the consumers are the reason we’re in business. There wouldn’t be an industry without the consumer and there wouldn’t be a regulator without the industry and the consumers.
"So I think for NCC to have set aside the year 2017 for the telecom consumer after the development and growth we’ve had in the industry is highly commended.
"ALTON belongs to the Consumer Advocacy Forum which is being driven by the NCC and we make very positive contribution to this forum where we bring to bear the challenges faced by consumers in relation to our operations requiring regulatory intervention in some cases and in other cases requiring amendment and adjustment in policy issues that will influence the best influence of the consumers. So as a group we’re working together with the NCC to foster the best of relationship not just between us and the NCC but also between our industry and the consumers which is why we’re in business; because we do believe that if the consumer interest is satisfied and fulfilled we’ll be in business for longer time to come."
Ntel (Represented by the CEO Kamar Abass)
"I congratulate the EVC whose leadership has been exemplary and who has brought this in leaps and bounds and placed us at the very head of regulation in Africa; we appreciate that. Indeed we will do everything possible in Ntel to support the consumer but let me make the point that as at today there’s a wide range of alternatives.
"We’re looking forward to participating in this fully and look forward to be able to delight customers and make sure that we improve in areas that are essential to customers enjoying high quality mobile services. I have seen enormous growth and prospects for telecom operators and we’re particularly appreciative of the NCC’s work in making sure that they promote fair competition and they support the operators; we’re very pleased with the support they’ve given to the industry.
"We’re not there yet and I urge that as operators we work closely together to make sure that we find better efficiency and find smarter ways to deliver services through networks that are better integrated and better shared and therefore provide more sustainable services of high quality to our customers".
ETISALAT (Represented by Mr Ikenna Ikeme, Director Regulatory and CSR)
"We congratulate the NCC for declaring 2017 as the Year of the Telecom Consumer. It is commendable that such resourcefulness has been put into sustaining the campaign and this has reaffirmed the Commission’s definitive expression to the importance of the consumer in the telecom eco-system.
"The Commission through its various consumer engagement programmes - COP, CTM, TCP - which has held across various states in Nigeria and even the most remote places gives the assurance that the consumer has a voice and the voice is heard by operators and stakeholders.
"We reiterate our commitment to unwavering customer satisfaction and delivering the highest QoS to our customers. To our consumers it has all been about you; this year, in the past and in the future and we’ll continue to strive to exceed your expectations".
GLO (represented by Mr Michael Toluhi, Coordinator, Finance, Regulatory and Business Service Department)
"The NCC has through its contemporary leadership role ensured that Nigerians receive the best of services. We believe that this initiative of declaring 2017, Year of the Telecom Consumer will sharpen the focus of operators and regulator alike on the demands and opportunities in the Nigerian telecom industry. It has placed the consumer in his right position in the telecommunication industry.
"We commend the NCC for this laudable initiative. With NCC declaring this year as the Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer, we urge the consumer to join Globacom in conferring on the NCC the well-deserved title of the ‘Grand Master of Regulators in Africa’. We at Globacom assure the NCC that we’ll continue to support them in the quest to place the consumer first in the delivery of world class telecommunication service in Nigeria while also congratulating the NCC for being the successful and customer-centric regulator in Nigeria".
MTN (Represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Muhammad Siddiqui)
"We congratulate the NCC for this initiative and thank you for your support and guidance and reiterate our commitment to support this year of the Nigerian telecom consumer and the 8-point agenda of the NCC.
"We’re open to working with our consumers to resolve their problems. In the area of VAS, unsolicited SMS and unauthorised deductions, I personally set up a committee and we meet twice every week to make sure that we do a clean-up. When we hear about consumer complaints, we don’t see it as a challenge, rather we see it as an opportunity to get better and we are getting better. We have confidence in the leadership of the NCC and that is why we are steadily investing more and more in the country with the consumer as our priority.
"What the NCC is doing is in line with our goal of making consumer experience more enjoyable now than ever before. We will continue to strengthen our capacity to deliver better service because we believe that the consumer is king."
SMILE COMMUNICATION (Represented by the MD, Godfrey Efeurobo)
"I must commend the NCC for declaring this year a year to put smile on the faces of the Nigerian telecom consumer. The consumer is very critical in all we do and competition is key so that the consumer can have choice.
"We’ll continue to work and support the leadership of the NCC. The NCC has today given the consumer a face and we’ll continue to work to see that the consumer actually gets value for money, QoS and reliable service. We believe that at the end of the day the score card of the NCC would say that the NCC has actually put a smile on the faces of telecom consumers in Nigeria".
AIRTEL (Represented by Mrs Tolulope Tope-Awofeko, Head Customer Experience and Operations
"We at Airtel are happy to join the NCC to commemorate the Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer, 2017. We commend the NCC for its role in defining the telecom space in Nigeria, ensuring a level playing field for all stakeholders and for creating the right environment for all stakeholders to thrive.
"Over the years NCC has demonstrated passion and commitment in exercising its oversight functions, just as it has consistently improved robust reforms, programmes and interventions to empower and create value for all stakeholders and one of such is why we’re gathered here today. It is against this backdrop that all of us at Airtel felicitate and congratulate the NCC for taking this bold step yet again, in ensuring that telecom consumers across the country are truly enthroned as kings and queens.
"We recognise the good work and outstanding leadership of the EVC of the NCC, Prof. Danbatta for igniting positive change in the NCC and the Nigerian telecom sector and for his creativity, integrity, forthrightness and self-sacrificing spirit. We’re committed to working with the NCC to further build robust network for Nigerians".
Lagos State House Of Assembly
Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Rt Hon Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, represented by Hon Tunde Braimoh said:
"We have over 152 million subscribers with about 20 million of them domiciled in Lagos. This is why we will not shy away from programmes like this. We congratulate the NCC for this broad-based programme. Institutions like the NCC come as a refreshing idea to build the kind of regulatory system that is not manually operated and that can regulate and sanitise the industry.
"NCC has done very well with regard to issues on consumer protection and the regulatory initiatives that led to improved quality service delivery to the people. As the representatives of the people, Lagos State House of Assembly will not shy away from telecoms activities, because they touch the affairs of our people.
"However, we are being inundated with petitions regarding issues in the industry which informed our desire for easier channels to communicate with the regulator in finding lasting solutions to these challenges. Having said that, it is commendable that NCC’s regulations have paid off; for without such, there wouldn’t have been improvement on quality of service. We believe that the theme for this campaign will further endear NCC as a consumer-friendly regulator.
"I urge the NCC to mandate mobile network operators to launch only products beneficial to the consumer, benefitting even the downtrodden".