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Banks owing telecoms company over ₦17bn

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Garba Danbatta has said, commercial banks in the country are owing telecommunications companies over ₦17 billion following the regulator’s suspension of its Determination on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) Pricing last year.

The NCC, in furtherance of its mandate to protect the interests of consumers and support a robust telecommunications sector, recently announced that it had revised the Determination on the USSD.

Speaking at ATCON’s virtual forum on “Meeting the Interests of Government, Consumers and Telecoms Companies in the Era of COVID-19 and Post COVID-19 Pandemic for Digital Economy Development”, Professor Danbatta noted that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Ibrahim Pantami was briefed on the development with a view to ensuring a quick settlement of the debt.

On the Commission’s efforts at resolving consumer-related issues, he noted that when the Commission introduced Do-Not-Disturb (DND) code in 2015, less than 500,000 people activated the code, but there are now 22,722,366 lines on the DND.

Professor Danbatta stated that 98% of the total service-related complaints received from telecoms consumers within a 15-month period, spanning January 2019 –April 2020, have been successfully resolved by the Commission. 

On the quality of service, the NCC boss said the Commission had monthly engagements with operators as well as quarterly industry working groups on Quality of Service and Short Codes and is currently monitoring 2G Key Performance Indicators, (KPI) while the KPIs for 4G are being prepared.

It should be recalled that the NCC in a statement released to the media recently, observed that the amendment to its USSD Determination was necessitated by a protracted dispute between Mobile Network Operators and Financial Institutions on the applicable charges for USSD services and the method of billing and the Commission recognised that its policies were not static and may be modified from time to time as circumstances demand.

According to Professor Danbatta, in the interest of the consumers and other stakeholders, the Commission revised the Determination previously issued by removing the Price Floor and the Cap to allow Mobile Network Operators and the banks to negotiate rates that will be mutually beneficial to all parties concerned.

The NCC also determined that Mobile Network Operators must not charge the consumers directly for the use of USSD channels for financial services in the form of end-user-billing, but revert to corporate billing.

The transaction should be between the Mobile Network Operators and the entity to which the service is provided (i.e. Banks and Financial Institutions).

Chioma Ezike

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