The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Dr. Aminu Maida has said that his administration at the regulatory body will tolerate no story on issue of quality of serrvice, warning the telecom operators to up their game.
Maida who read the riot act when he met with telecom industry stakeholders in Lagos yesterday, said his administration will listen more to the consumers than what the key performance Indicators, KPI of the operators say, because most often, there is a sharp disparity on both stands.
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His action followed his approval by the National Assembly, as the substantive EVC of the Commission, Thursday in Abuja.
Maida was confirmed by the Senate during its plenary session where it adopted a report of the Senate Committee on Communications that screened Maida on Wednesday, November 15, 2023.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Communications, and former Minister of Communications, Senator Ikra Aliyu Bilbis, who submitted the report implored the Senate to consider the request of President Bola Tinubu for the confirmation Maida, adding that his Committee had screened Maida, who had earlier passed all scrutiny by the relevant security agencies in the security governance sector.
Bilbis informed the Senate that Maida possesses the requisite qualifications, professional experience, competence, and regulatory capacity to ensure accelerated development of the nation’s telecommunications sector.
Consequently, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Maida, through a voice vote to serve a five-year term in office, subject to renewal by the President.
Meanwhile, addressing a cross section of telecom stakeholders, including the Association of Licensed telecom operators in Nigeria, ALTON, Asoociation of Telecom companies of Nigeria ATCON and Wireless Access Services providers Association of Nigeria, WASPAN among others in Lagos, Maida said that the commission where the issue of quality of service in the sector is non negotiable.
He told the gathering that his top priorities are to improve coverage and connectivity by bridging access gaps between rural and urban communities through increased broadband infrastructure as well as increasing the quality service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) for the consumers to enable them to get value for money.
Maida also made a promise to create a more conducive environment for investment in the sector, even as he promised to inject a new thinking to how the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) would be leveraged to bridge the digital divide in the country.
For him, inter-agency collaboration is a priority because it will help to achieve the current blueprint for the digital economy sector.
Responding on behalf of the telecom operators, Chairman of ALTON Engr Gbenga Adebayo welcomed the new EVC and prayed that his name Maida will help him offer a maidas touch that will transform the sector for good.
He however listed a few important areas the regulator would address as a matter of urgency to get the industry kicking in the right direction.
They included addressing the bank-telcos USSD debt dispute, which he said has risen to over N200 billion.
Another is the interconnect debt among the operators and reviewing the tariff structure as according to him, the current charges are no longer sustainable with current economic situation.
Adebayo said: ” we wish you could easily help us resolve the issue of the Unstructured Suplementary Service Data, USSD debts the banks are owing us. Banks indebtness to telcos has now risen to over N200bn. You have to look into that. Nobody is going to forget or write off that debt. It’s a challenge for you, sir.
“The quality of service in Abuja is poor, but it has to do with difficulties in upgrading services there due to policies. You have to laiase with the FC Minister Nyesom Wike to make regulations easy for us to upgrade facilities.
” Interconnect debt among the telecom companies is huge. Help us to use regulatory powers to resolve or at least bring it down.
” Again, the present price regime is not sustainable, considering the prevailing conditions of the economy and cost of operations. It is high time we allowed independent bodies to look at it, with the view to reviewing it upwards for our members to recoup operational costs” he added.