In its bid to address challenges in the telecoms sector, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has gathered all its licensees in Lagos to deliberate on issues confronting them. The two-day Talk To The Regulator (TTTR) forum which is holding in Lagos, opened with the regulator urging the operators to pour out their minds on any challenges they are facing, with a view to preferring solutions in areas where regulatory interventions are required.
Speaking at the forum, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, the forum provides the Commission with a unique opportunity to engage with its licensees in a collaborative atmosphere which, in turn, enables both parties to jointly examine issues that are negatively affecting licence compliance and industry growth. He added the forum is also an opportunity for stakeholders to jointly work out collaborative solutions and implementation programmes in the national interest.
“Regulator-licensee interactions like the TTTR Forum are critical to industry growth and development. These interaction seat squarely within the five pillars of the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (2020-2024). These pillars are, respectively, Regulatory Excellence, Promotion of Universal Broadband Access, the Development of the Digital Economy, Facilitation of Market Development, and Strategic Partnering. Through regular interactions with our licensees, the Commission is able to gain valuable insights to enhance our regulatory output and drive excellence in consonance with the five pillars ofour strategic vision for the industry as encapsulated in the Commission’s Strategic Vision Plan (SVP, 2021-2025),” he said
Also speaking at the TTTR forum, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Mr. Adeleke Adewolu, noted that holding the forum in in Lagos is significant for the simple reason that Lagos is arguably the hub of communications services in Nigeria. “Most of our licensees have their headquarters here, and Lagos hosts the largest single concentration of telecoms infrastructure and telecoms subscribers. As such, it is only natural that the regulator should come over to interact with our “customers” where they are in the spirit of superior customer service which we champion at the N CC.
“As many of you already know, the NCC considers consultation as a lifeblood of regulation. The Nigerian Communications Act (N CA, 2003) entrusts the NCC with powers and responsibilities for the regulation of both the technical and market-related aspects of telecoms infrastructure and services in Nigeria. “The Commission has however, never taken these powers for granted. Over the years, we have consistently deployed stakeholder engagement tools like public enquiries, private investigations, written information requests, one-on-one discussions and diverse consumer engagement platforms. These tools enable us to ensure that our interventions are well-grounded and that our decisions are based on a clear understanding of stakeholder perspectives,” Adewolu said.
Also speaking at the forum, the Director, Licensing and Authorisation, NCC, Mr. Mohammed Babajika, said the forum was to seek clarifications with respect to any issue regarding the operators’ licence obligations and renewal processes and procedures. “I would like to assure you that the Commission is open to hear from you on the operation and challenges in your business and would take your recommendations on-board (as was done in the just concluded TTTR, Kano State) with a View to implementing ideas that would positively impact the industry” he said.
Some of the of the operators who spoke at the forum, especially, the VAS providers, blamed the mobile network operators (MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile) for their woes. According to them, the MNOs have been short-changing them in VAS revenue sharing, which is why many VAS providers have shut down.
The VAS operators render services such as caller ring back tunes, health tips, daily motivational quotes, sport/entertainment news, and the likes, which are delivered to mobile subscribers and the subscribers are charged through deduction of their call credit. However, in sharing the revenue, they said the MNOs would first deduct 20 per cent as fee for recharge card printing and Annual Operating Levy (AOL), before sharing the remaining as 60/40, which is affecting their business. They added that they also pay AOL from the same revenue that the MNOs have deducted AOL from, thus making double payment to the regulator.
The Commission promised to attend to the issues raised.