President Muhammadu Buhari says the telecommunications sector contributed 10 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2019.
Mr Buhari said this at the 2019 Conference of African Telecommunications Regulators on Consumer Affairs (CATCO) taking place in Abuja.
He advised the telecommunications industry to play bigger roles in economic growth and development in Africa.
The 2019 edition of CATCO with the theme “Empowering the Telecom Consumer in an Era of Technological Evolution” is expected to critically examine, analyse and identify the strength and weaknesses of the regulators.
It also wants to examine how telecoms regulators can empower the consumers in this era of technological evolution.
According to documents from the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), the first edition of the conference was held in 2013. At the event, telecoms regulators discussed how to harness regulatory policies to protect telecom consumers in Africa.
During the summit, a 17-point resolution was reached on various approaches African regulators can deploy to safeguard and protect telecom consumers.
It revealed that during a six-year hiatus, the advancement in technologies has thrown up issues on the need for regulators to strengthen necessary regulatory valves towards safeguarding the interest of consumers of digital tools and services.
Mr Buhari, who was represented by the Chief of Staff to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Polycap Shambo, advised regulators to be concerned about the effects of the technological changes on the customers.
“Indeed these technologies have created a borderless world with a powerful impact on the lives of millions of telecoms consumers, regardless of how remote they are physically located,” he said.
“But we must be aware that these technologies present enormous opportunities for the consumers on one hand and may constitute threats to consumers on the other hand, especially if left improperly regulated,” he said.
Mr Buhari said technological evolution has changed interactions among nations. Globally, it has facilitated innovations in various sectors of the economy, bringing a lot of efficiency in service delivery, he said.
He said the Nigerian government was making necessary efforts to address challenges associated with the right of way issue and vandalism of telecoms infrastructure among others.
“We are also ensuring that Nigeria continues to attract Foreign Direct Investments(FDIs) into its digital space through creating the enabling environment for business to thrive,” he said.
The NCC said rapid technological evolution is a major challenge as it regulates the African telecommunications ecosystem.
The executive vice-chairman of NCC, Umar Danbata, said two major initiatives had been introduced to empower consumers in technological evolution.
He said access to seamless telecommunications services will empower customers for business and economic development.
“Improving the telecoms industry has become essential not only to business but to the national economy,” he said.
“Do Not Disturb (DND), 2442 short code will help consumers control unsolicited calls and text messages. NCC 622 Toll Free Line is to ensure the improvement of service delivery,” he said.
He said 21million subscribers have signed up for DND while 276,103 also signed up for Toll Free Line with 95 per cent of the complaints successfully resolved.
The NCC boss said a number of the challenges encountered were approached systematically to strike a balance between stakeholders.
Mr Danbata said the regulatory body has commenced “aggressive” enforcement of compulsory compliance with NCC’s Code of Corporate Governance for Telecommunications Industry in 2016.
“We are ensuring that telecoms service delivery is improved through continuously monitoring of activities of our licences in order to treat consumer right and offer them value for their money,” he said.