Buhari to African telecom regulators: Protect consumers, fight e-fraud
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday charged African telecoms regulators to protect the continent and their consumers against e-fraud and cyber crime.
The President gave the charge in Abuja at the 2019 edition of the Conference of African Telecommunications Regulators on Consumer Affairs (CATCO) hosted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The conference with the theme “Empowering the Telecom Consumer in an Era of Technological Evolution’’ is to, among others, look at how regulatory activities of the 54-member nations of African Union (AU) can be integrated for seamless connectivity to boost customers’ satisfaction.
The President underscored the need for the bodies of telecom regulators in the continent to place priority attention to protecting their consumers from e-fraud,
The president was represented by Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) who was also represented by his (SGF) Chief of Staff, Mr Polycarp Shombo.
“Globally, technological evolution has facilitated innovations in various sectors of the economy such as banking, agriculture, healthcare, commerce, entertainment, transport, and so on, bringing a lot of efficiency in service delivery as we are witnessing in Nigeria.
“However, these channels may also be hijacked and manipulated to the detriment of vulnerable consumers as can be demonstrated by rise in e-fraud activities and cybercrimes,’’ he said.
The President also called on the regulators to keep themselves abreast of the phased technological evolution from the first, second, third, fourth and the fifth generation of technologies.
He said that telecoms regulatory agencies should be concerned about the effects of the technological changes on the consumers as regulators of one of the dynamic sectors of the economy in Africa.
Buhari said that the federal government was focusing on leveraging ICT as baseline for growth and development in every sector of Nigeria’s economy.
He stressed that telecommunications and broadly speaking, Information Communications Technology (ICT), had become an enabler of economic growth
According to him, Nigeria is already tackling challenges associated with broadband deployment in order to boost accessibility, availability and affordability of digital services across the nooks and crannies of the country.
He said the government is working tirelessly, through regulators, to address challenges associated with right of way issue, multiple taxation and regulations, vandalism of telecoms infrastructure, among others.
“We are also ensuring that Nigeria continues to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) into its digital space through creating the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“We now talk of Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud Computing, Blockchain, smart cities and various smart technological renovations.
“All are targeted at certain group of consumers of digital services, whether individual or corporate entities,’’ he said.
The President congratulated the entire NCC team for supporting the platform for telecoms regulatory bodies across the length and breadth of Africa to gather and exchange ideas.
“The contribution of telecoms to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) now stands at over 10 per cent by the first quarter of this year.
”We want to see telecoms industry playing even bigger role as an enabler of economic growth and development not only in Nigeria but also across Africa.
“We must be aware that these technologies present enormous opportunities for the consumers on the one hand and may constitute threats to consumers on the other hand, especially if left improperly regulated.
“In as much as the technological evolution has changed the way we interact as nations it has also deepened the frontier for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly,’’ he said.
The president charged the regulators to be on top of their game in safeguarding the interests of the end users of the complex technologies.