NCC Boss Underlines Consumers’ Vital Role in Telecom Industry on World Consumer Rights Day

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Dr. Aminu Maida, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), underscored the pivotal role of consumers within Nigeria’s telecommunications industry, affirming that consumers constitute the cornerstone of any business. Speaking at the commemoration of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day in Abuja, Maida stressed the paramount importance of safeguarding consumer rights.

World Consumer Rights Day, observed annually on March 15th, serves to advocate for consumer rights globally and combat unjust trade practices. Maida elucidated the genesis of this significant day, tracing it back to 1962 when President John F. Kennedy delineated four fundamental consumer rights in his address to the US Congress: the right to safety, the right to information, the right to choice, and the right to redress.

“Consistent with the above, the Commission has over the years kept faith with this date to highlight the important position the telecom consumers occupy in the telecommunications ecosystem in Nigeria, in order to uphold the rights of consumer which have evolved over the years with additional new consumer rights like the right to privacy, the right to quality of service, the right to timely redress, right to action on disputed charges, right to fair complaint process and right to accurate billing,” he said.

Dr. Maida highlighted that the Commission, in harmony with global currents, embraced the theme for this year’s iteration of World Consumer Rights Day as “Fair and Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the Consumer.” Relating this to the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), he emphasized the enduring fascination that AI has held for scientists, engineers, and thinkers over numerous decades. AI epitomizes the pinnacle of human ingenuity and the pursuit of developing machines capable of emulating human intelligence and problem-solving prowess.

“AI has already made significant inroads into our lives. From voice assistants that respond to our commands to recommendation algorithms that suggest what we should watch, read, or buy, AI is all around us. It’s driving innovation in healthcare, finance, transportation, and countless other fields,” he added.

Conversely, he said, “with inordinate power comes great obligation. As we celebrate the advancements in AI, we must also grapple with ethical questions. How do we ensure that AI systems are fair and unbiased? How do we protect privacy in an age of data-driven AI? These are complex issues that require careful consideration.

“Using AI responsibly is crucial in order to guarantee consumer trust and circumvent possible problems.

“Responsible AI means using it in an ethical way throughout its development, deployment, and usage. This includes considering issues like bias, privacy, transparency, and accountability. According to reports, responsible AI aims to empower consumers, build trust, and minimize negative effects.”

To this effect, he said, “AI Developers need to be transparent about the data, algorithms, and models used in AI systems. This ensures that decisions made by AI can be explained and mistakes can be fixed to ensure everyone is treated fairly, regardless of their background. This helps prevent biased decisions or discrimination thereby promoting inclusivity and equality.

“Protecting citizens’ privacy is extremely important when using AI. Organizations should handle personal data responsibly, following strict privacy regulations. Respecting privacy builds trust in AI systems.

“Responsible AI requires mechanisms for holding systems accountable and explaining their decisions. Consumers should understand how AI systems work and have a way to address issues or biases.

“The Commission in pursuit to join the global community to advance digital services and enhance quality communications infrastructure for the benefit of the citizenry conducted a globally acclaimed most transparent auction for 5G services in Nigeria firstly on December 13th 2021 and secondly on December 5th 2022. The first auction saw the emergence of MTN and MAFAB as the successful bidders while Airtel Networks Nigeria emerged as the sole bidder at the second auction.


“Since the emergence of these operators as providers of 5G services in Nigeria, there has been a steady growth in the development and deployment AI systems and services and the Commission has been constantly ensuring that the growth is the right direction that guarantees value addition to Consumer satisfaction and experience as well as ensuring economic growth.

“Developing regulations and policies to govern AI deployment can be complex and as well as playing catch up due to technological advancements. Although most Legislative and governing Bodies are looking to regulate this technology, there has been continuous struggle to strike the right balance between risk mitigation and stifling innovation, while promoting innovation and ensuring security and trust. In this era that has seen the rise of AI and IoT cybersecurity, it is important to break silos and foster collaboration of the Quadruple Helix Innovation model comprising of the Academia, the Industry, Government and Society to share ideas. AI developers and Regulators have to ensure AI system algorithms consider, ethics and inclusivity.

“The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping industries and transforming the way we live and work. However, as AI technologies become increasingly integrated into various aspects of society, so they bring forth a complex web of legal and regulatory challenges. Navigating this uncharted territory requires a careful examination of existing laws, the development of new regulations, and ethical considerations to ensure that AI benefits society without compromising fundamental rights and values.”

According to him, while the theme of this years’ World Consumer Right Day is on Fair and Responsible AI for the Consumer, “I cannot but speak to important thematic issues in the Nigerian Telecom Space.”

He said, with the Commission’s special interest and commitment to Consumer Protection, “we have proactively put in place consumer-centric initiatives to deal with first level complaints by the telecom consumer. These initiatives include the Consumer Complaints Management (CCM), through which various channels of lodging complaints were created, the NCC Toll-free line 622 available between 8:00am to 8:00pm daily except on Sundays and Public Holidays, the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) Code 2442, for stopping unsolicited messages, the Consumer Portal-, and the Commission Consumer X account @Consumersncc. Other initiatives include the Telecom Consumer Assistance, Resolution and Enquiries (TELCARE), at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, an additional platform to enhance awareness of the Commission’s activities, make enquiries on consumer complaints and also for advocacy on any thematic telecom issues or concern. Also not to overlook the most recent, the Harmonized Short Codes initiative which enables consumers to use the same codes to access services across all networks. Recall that one major focus area of the strategic roadmap of the Nigerian Communications Commission’s current Management is the Consumer.”

Also, NCC’s Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Mr. Clem Omife, said the World Consumer Rights Day is set aside to highlight the rights of consumers and protect them from exploitation, discrimination, and other forms of unfair practices.

“Certainly, we cannot over-emphasis the importance the consumers. The Commission recognizes the important position the consumers occupy in the telecommunications ecosystem, and therefore will continue develop and promote consumer centric initiatives aimed at ensuring that the rights of consumers are protected.

“Consumer Education also form a major tool for promoting consumer rights and therefore the Commission continues to engage with consumers and consumer issues using it various outreach programmes such the Telecom Consumer Parliament, Telecom Consumer Conversations: Market Conversation, Village Square Dialogue, Campus Conversation, NYSC Camp Sensitization Town Hall on Radio. We have also published the Telecom Consumer Handbook and transcribed into Braille for the Visually impaired.

“Also, the Commission- is in the final process of deploying the Automated Consumer Complaints Management system, which will further expand the complaints channels and improve complaints resolutions even at First level with Service Providers.”

He emphasized that consumers will maintain a distinct and paramount position in the Commission’s endeavors, as they acknowledge that without consumers, the telecommunications industry would cease to exist.

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Mon Mar 18 , 2024
Share, like and Comment The Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Aminu Maida, has lauded the celebration of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day, saying that consumers are the most important part of any business. He also emphasised that the protection of […]

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