The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has called on stakeholders in the digital finance sector to protect consumers from financial losses.
The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, made the call at the 2022 World Consumer Rights Day, celebrated yesterday in Abuja.
Danbatta said the call was necessary because more persons were into banking, insurance, and investment management digital services.
He said: Fair Digital Finance, which is the theme of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day, called for stakeholders to do more in protecting consumers from losses.
“These challenges of adapting to digital platforms for transactions are further worsened by unscrupulous people that exploit consumer vulnerabilities for illicit gains.
“All stakeholders have the responsibility to protect consumers against losses on account of their adopting digital platforms; they should enjoy the protection as obtained on the legacy platforms,” Danbatta said.
He added that in spite of the challenges, the commission would ensure more Nigerians had access to digital platforms.
He said with a robust infrastructure, the country would achieve over 80 per cent of digital inclusion in the next four years.
“As we address the threat and challenges to those that are already connected to digital finance, the Commission is mindful of those that are yet to be connected because of coverage issues.
“As many as 35 million Nigerians are yet to have access to telecommunications services and by implication, they lack access to digital financial services.
“This situation denies these Nigerians access to digital financial inclusion. It is a challenge that is attributable to the inadequacy of both wireless and fibre connectivity infrastructure.
“The fact remains that more citizens will embrace the digital financial culture when they have access to telecom services in the distant, isolated, unserved, and underserved communities where they dwell,” he said.
The EVC revealed that the commission would soon establish Telecom Consumer Assistance, Resolution and Enquiries (TELCARE) Desk, at strategic locations across the country, to provide information to telecom consumers.
Earlier, the Board Chairman of NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, said the theme of this year’s celebration was apt because the increasingly high speed of digitalisation of financial services.
Akande said more inclusions had thrown up many challenges for consumers as they navigate the new financial services landscape.
The Country Director, Save the Consumer, Mr Aliyu Ilias, commended the NCC and urged it and other regulators to check and investigate activities of online loan providers nationwide.
Dr. Christopher Nwanoro, President, National Disability Empowerment Forum (NADEF) applauded the NCC for its inclusion of persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
Nwanoro also sought the Commission’s support to produce a user-friendly telecom manual, especially in form of braille to assist consumers living with disabilities.
The Tide’s source reports that the event also featured debates for secondary schools and roads works in all its zonal offices.
Expert Wants Telcos To Prioritise Improved QoS
A Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy Advisor, Mr. Jide Awe, has urged telecommunication operators to give priority to improving Quality of Services (QoS).
Awe, who is also the Founder of Jidaw.com, made the appeal in an interview with newsmen in Lagos State, recently.
He said it was necessary to improve the current poor QoS using strategic investment in infrastructure to support current and future needs.
Awe said the future needs included increased number of users and increased traffic volumes of transactions among others.
“Customer journey has evolved significantly over the years, largely influenced by the advancements in telecommunications technology.
“Customers now expect seamless and uninterrupted connectivity across multiple touchpoints, be it through their smartphones, laptops, or Internet of Things (IoT) devices”, he said.
Awe also noted that the telecoms industry was plagued with right-of-way charges, multiple taxation, and insecurity of telecoms infrastructure.
According to him, addressing these challenges is essential for consumer protection to ensure QoS standards are met, and that consumers receive the promised level of service quality.
The policy advisor added that solving the issues would also help in promoting affordable broadband services.
On the role of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) as a regulator, he said the NCC needed to adopt an innovative, supportive, and visionary regulation approach that appreciated the importance of innovation and expansion.
“As new technologies continue to emerge, regulation cannot afford to be static. NCC should inculcate a spirit of innovation and growth in the sector.
“Innovative regulation helps to cultivate an environment that attracts investment to propel sectoral growth. Investor-friendly initiatives, simplification of regulations, strategic and disruptive thinking/approaches are crucial”, he said.
‘No Going Back On Plans Against Passport Racketeers’
A top immigration officer in Port- Harcourt, who spoke anonymosly, has stressed that the Immigration Service, Rivers State Commission will not soft pedal on plans to go against passport racketeering in the State.
Stating this in an interview with the press in Port Harcourt, Monday, he warned against any attempt to portay the agency in bad light, saying such will be resisted by the system.
He emphasised that passport racketeering is capable of portraying the command in bad light, especially the Passport Unit, at the international group where it belonged.
Noting that the passport processes do not require a third party, easy and pocket friendly, the officer expressed regrets that the saboteurs charge the unsuspecting members of the public seeking passport exhobitantly thereby making the process cumbersome.
He boasted on how the passport personnel “have all it takes to deliver tasks on schedule with zero complaint”.
According to him, those in the act of the alleged sabotage risk imprisonment, if caught, in that it is viewed as economic sabortage on the part of the Federal Government.
“Passport racketeering is against the law and abuse of process. Things must be done in order and decently. We are an agency established by law. So, anything we are doing must follow due process”, he said.
He has also called on members of the public to be wary of patronising road-side passport operators to avoid double payment.
“If due process will be followed, according to him, the issue of passport racketeering will belong to history”.
He also described as a plus, the introduction of e-gates in about four International Airports in the country, including Port Harcourt.
Stories compiled by King Onunwor
Minister Wants States To Align Technological Advancement With Local Prionties
Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Chief Uche Nnaji, has urged states to align their technological advancements with local priorities.
The Minister said this at the first edition of the interactive forum for state commissioners in charge of Science and Technology, held in Abuja recently.
Nnaji said states should also provide solutions for regional-specific challenges and promoting a more robust and resilient scientific ecosystem that fosters collaboration and knowledge sharing.
“This alignment will ensure inclusivity, unlock the immense potential of our nation’s intellectual and technological resources, and propel our states to the forefront of technological advancements”, he said.
The Minister also urged the commissioners to actively engage local industries, research institutions and community stakeholders, so as to collaborate in amplifying the impact of Nigeria’s scientific endeavours.
He said this was important to ensure seamless transition from research to application of the scientific endeavours, to facilitate economic growth and ensure technological advancements that meet the needs of citizens.
“As Nigeria transits from a resource to a knowledge-based economy driven by innovation, it is worth emphasising that this task is daunting but certainly surmountable, and will require strong commitment, continuous learning and adaptive strategies.
“Let us, therefore, approach it with a sense of urgency, recognising that the decisions we make today will shape the future of our scientific landscape”, he said.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs Esuabana Asanye, said the forum was meant to broaden their scope and ensure their buy-in and implementation of the National Science and Technology Roadmap 2017-2030.
Asanye stated that the roadmap represented the desire to implement the National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation designed to hasten innovation, economic growth and inclusive scientific development to meet national aspiration.
“The task before us is a shared responsibility to harness the full potential of our sub national for the national scientific landscape for environmental sustainability and curbing climate devastation. Each state has its unique demographic resourcefulness and if properly managed, would exponentially foster the culture of innovation at the grassroot level for sustainable development”, she said.
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