Fix Africa News Magazine

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has stressed the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to accommodate telecoms service providers on its forex priority list to reduce the risk of forex fluctuation and access being experienced by the operators.

This call was made by the Director Licensing and Authorisation, NCC, Ms. Funlola Akiode, at the stakeholders’ consultative forum held at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Lagos yesterday.

According to her, “The Commission has been engaging the CBN on the need to list telecoms on the forex priority list. The two agencies have had series of meetings in this regard and other issues that require collaboration. While we are hopeful of a successful outcome, the Commission has continued to assist operators through the Confirmation of Reasonableness of Service Fees on invoices submitted for procurement of intangible telecoms services from foreign vendors through forex sourced from CBN.

“While the commission is fully aware and committed to discharging its mandate, especially in facilitating a conducive telecommunication environment and guiding the industry to sustain the achievement already recorded in the industry, it can only achieve this with the cooperation and support of the licensees with respect to compliance with extant laws and subsidiary legislations.

“We have been recently inundated with complaints by subscribers on various issues such as the non-compliance with the commission’s directions on data roll-over, automatic renewal of data service and discrepancies in the advertised data speed and actual speed experienced by consumers after subscribing to a service.”

Akiode said NCC recent audit checks revealed that some licensees were not in compliance with obligations such as payment of Annual Operating Levy (AOL), approved Individual Consumer Code of Practice (ICCP), Type approval of equipment, submission of statistical data and informing the Commission on their change of address.

She said the area of licence renewal is of great concern to the Commission, over the delay in licence renewal by licensees whose licences have expired or about to expire.

“They erroneously relied on the aspect of the licence document which states that their licence would be automatically renewed. I wish to reiterate that renewal of expired licence is not automatic but subject to fulfilment of obligations such as being up to date in payment of AOL, development and publication of approved Individual Consumer Code of Practice, updated type approval of telecoms equipment, payment of spectrum and numbering where applicable etc,” she said.

Also speaking at the event, Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, said the Commission is a proactive and responsive regulator, and has taken steps to ensure that the industry continually adapts to the evolution in the telecommunications sector.

“The Commission has also recently concluded the licensing of Value Added Services (VAS) Aggregators in the bid to improve the service delivery frame work and improve consumer satisfaction on value-added services. The framework will therefore ensure that telecom subscribers truly get added value when they sign up for such services.

“Our expectation is that licensees will compliment interventions like these from the Commission by instituting best practices in the running of their activities. There are existing Service Level Agreements and codes of conduct that, when appropriately implemented, would guarantee conducive operating environment that will significantly reduce the need for regulatory intervention. In this regard, I wish to particularly mention the Code of Corporate Governance for the Telecoms industry we are concerned that much of the problems bedeviling the industry can, arguably, be traced to lax governance standards and we expect all licensees (including those or whom the Code is not yet mandatory) to review their governance practices to better conform with the Code,” Danbatta said.

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