…Says Code to address unethical Practices
By Etuka Sunday
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday took its Zonal Sensitisation Workshop on the Code of Corporate Governance for the Tecommunications Industry to the ancient city of Kano.
This, was to sensitise the industry stakeholders and general public of the existence of the code; efforts geared to rid the sector of existing sharp practices and reposition it on the part of sustainable growth.
With over 140 million subscribers as at December, 2017, out of which 98 million are internet subscribers, the Code becomes necessary to address the ethical issues in the industry.
Speaking at the Sensitisation Workshop in Kano, the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta said, the Code will lead to improvement in the sector growth trajectory and overall contribution to the GDP.
Prof. Danbatta said, under the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) framework, pervasive Broadband deployment alongside other ICT infrastructure were duly recognized as key elements for the targeted diversification of the economy beyond the current mono focus on oil and gas. “Our target to achieve 30% Broadband rollout in the country by end of this year 2018 remains in focus.”
He said NCC is committed to deliver regulatory excellence and facilitate operational efficiency, geared towards making the sector attractive to drive the level of investment and capital inflow needed.
According to him, “current evaluation report of the state of the industry suggests that whilst not understating the impact of other external and fiscal issues confronting the sector, that most challenges negatively affecting the health of operators in the sector today are attributable to poor governance issues.
“The Commission is determined to provide needed regulatory interventions to ensure that the sector plays effectively the enabling role it is mandated to create by the Act, the NCA 2003. It is currently rejigging its regulatory oversights in the areas of ensuring that consumers get cost effective value for money spent on telecommunication services; and that service delivery by providers are qualitative and efficient,” he said.
The NCC boss said, “towards empowering the consumer, the Commission initiated the Do Not Disturb (DND) facility and the short code 2442 as toll free portal to moderate incidences of unsolicited messages. It also hyped its second level consumer complaint toll-free line short code 622 towards addressing unresolved consumer complaints on service failures.
“Issues of Quality of Service and factors affecting it are being aggressively tackled including by means of engagement with the tiers of government to address issues of Security, Right of Way, Multiple Taxation and Multiple Regulation, etc.
“In pursuit of its defined goal of regulatory operational efficiency, it has initiated international consultancies for the review of the Mobile Termination Rate (MTR) and International Termination Rate (ITR); and also for the determination of cost based pricing for retail broadband and data services.
“All the above initiatives are geared towards ensuring transparency in all areas of the Telecommunications service value chain by ensuring that tariffs are competitive and fair.
“Emerging from the cost based study of Mobile Termination Rate a new rate regime is to come into effect 1st March, 2018,” he said.
Prof. Danbatta said, “the regulator is benchmarking its performance standards to international best practices as a means of bolstering sector and international confidence. It is our expectation that the sector would align fully to these operational standards to consolidate on the gains already attained and further position the sector for even more robust performance.
“The regulator through the corporate governance code seeks strategic collaboration and partnership, as a vehicle for building synergy and trust to boost investor confidence through accountability and disclosure policies. Optimal compliance level could ultimately lead to sector players-self-regulation in due course.”
He said, “ a regime of sanctions has been put in place to facilitate compliance. A regime of reward and recognition for best practices has equally been developed to recognize full adoption and consistent compliance.
“I therefore urge stakeholders to embrace the code and strive towards full compliance even as the regulator commits to constant review of the principles in consultation with stakeholders to ensure alignment with global best practices and standards at all times.”
He however, assured that all key issues of concerns or suggestions for improvements agreed to at the zonal sensitization workshops shall be collated and considered during subsequent reviews.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman, NCC Board of Commissioners, Sen. Olabiyi Durojaiye said, the code would eliminate “Sharp Practices” in the industry.
He said, the scenario where fraudulent Nigerians would be using foreign phone numbers to defraud people, would be checked by the code.
However, in his Keynote, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), A. B. Mahmoud (SAN) identified ambiguity in the code which he advised should be looked into and addressed.
He said, lack of clarity of the applicable sanctions for non-compliance should also be addressed.
In all, the NBA President said, “the code meets the basic requirements of good corporate governance, but there are clearly areas of improvement.”