The National Communications Commission (NCC) is working out strategies to address transparency around tariffs and billing by the telecom service providers as it commits to a more efficient focus on consumers going forward.
The commission is also collaborating with relevant security agencies to tackle heightening insecurity across the country and will ensure that all illegal SIM cards and those not linked to the National Identification Number (NIN) stop functioning by the end of February, as earlier announced.
Aminu Maida, executive vice chairman (EVC), NCC, who spoke about the new focus during a meeting with media executives in Abuja, said his vision “is to put smiles on the faces of Nigeria’s telecoms consumers.” Maida said part of the new strategy was to hold the network providers accountable and ensure that they deliver value to the consumers and also increase investments.
He listed the three strategic focus areas of the commission as consumers, government and licencee/industry, which it must find a “delicate balance”, however, the consumers remain critical stakeholders in the value chain, because “everything revolves around them.”
“We need to put smiles on the faces of consumers with quality services. We want to get to the point where our services will be very reliable and serve the needs of consumers.
“To be able to achieve that, there must be transparency and accountability around billing systems and tariffs. That is why we are working hard to simplify the tariffs and billings knowing that telecoms services have become very critical to our lives and we must make it work well and serve Nigerians.”
He also noted that collaboration with relevant stakeholders remains key especially in the new era and in tackling insecurity.
According to him, “NCC is ready to work with other stakeholders to make things better and bring in more investments and revenue for Nigeria. We recognize the fact that if we do not work hard and put smiles on the faces of our consumers, the industry cannot make the required progress.
“We have a responsibility as a regulator to make the telecoms industry more resilient and contribute more to Nigeria’s gross domestic product. While we do not need new regulations to run the industry, I will however be more dynamic and agile in my approach to dealing with issues to meet the needs of Nigerians and key players in the industry.”
“We have been working with the security agencies including the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to enable them to face and tackle these challenges. Be rest assured that we work closely with the security agencies to achieve the successes that they need.”
He decried the situation where telephone subscribers in the country own more than one SIM on account of inefficient service, and is regrettable.
“We need to improve the network. We want to get to that place where people can independently choose a network without experiencing a network hitch. We are engaging with telecom CEOs on transparency, tariffs and billings. We will simplify the tariff system,” he assured.
Maida further announced that the Commission is fine-tuning a draft corporate governance framework for the industry which will drive transparency, accountability, and data integrity, among others.
On what is being done by the NCC to address unbridled cases of illegal SIM registration which fuel insecurity in the country, he said that the NCC will soon come up with stiffer sanctions against offenders, and insisted that the commission is not in bed with the telcos as being insinuated.
Efosa Idehen, director, compliance monitoring and enforcement, at NCC, who equally spoke on the use of illegal SIMs in the country, called it a huge challenge for the industry.
He, however, assured that the ongoing National Identification Number (NIN) to SIM linkage will curb the issue and as such help tackle insecurity challenges.
“In 2021, there was a policy to link NIN to SIM. The National Identity Card Management Commission (NIMC) was expected to have created a database, however, we discovered there was a loophole.
“We will collaborate with Over the Top Service (OTTs) to tackle the challenge. Very soon SIM not linked to NIN will be blocked. We will remove SIMs that are not properly registered. We will work with OTTs to validate SIM registration,” Idehen assured.