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Monday, March 16, 2009

‘Protecting the consumer’ roundtable to hold in Lagos

Arrangements have been concluded for the hosting of a one-day Stakeholders’ Forum, which this year would centre on ‘Protecting the Consumer’ in the city of Lagos.

The forum, initiated by IT & Telecom Digest magazine in 2006 in close collaboration with Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is a roundtable for stakeholders in affirmation of the regulator’s disposition to protecting telecommunications consumer.

According to sources from the organizers, the NCC event would bring together under one roof, operators, equipment manufacturers, government officials, consumers and other interested parties, essentially to find ways to better protect the consumer in the emerging convergence in the industry. 

The fourth in the series, the organizers also said that Stakeholders’ Forum, is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 24, at the Golden Gate Restaurant in Ikoyi, Lagos, with theme: “Protecting the Consumer in an era of ICT Convergence.” 

“It is expected to attract the key industry players, companies and individuals in the support industry like power, software, equipment suppliers, as well as the academia and consumer advocacy groups, among others,” Mr. Mkpe Abang who endorsed a press statement to that effect.

Abang, who is the editor of IT & Telecom Digest magazine, noted that the forum is coming at a time when the industry is under pressure from the global economic meltdown, as this year edition is to proffer solutions to problems in the ICT sector.

“The outcome will be used keenly by the Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of the NCC as a medium of reaching out to operators and the various businesses that have developed around the increasingly successful ICT industry in Nigeria,” he said.

Stressing that with a view to getting them all serve the consumers best in an atmosphere free of rancour in the emerging global village being further brought about by convergence in the ICT industry.

While most operators around the world are contending with the biting crunch of the economic downturn, the NCC has severally assured that the Nigerian industry is separated by the government’s continued protection of the consuming public through deliberate policies.

He pointed out that these people oriented government policies formed part of the regulator’s mandate in the last eight years.

“The NCC has introduced innovative consumer protection programmes, which have served as an interface between them (consumers) and operators such as the Consumer Parliament,” he declared.

Therefore, Abang lauded the idea of discussing the place of the consumer in the growing convergence of the ICT industry in Nigeria and by extension the rest of the world, saying its appropriate and in direct consonance with the government set objective.

Abang further described the NCC choice of subject as the most apt and timely, especially at a time like this when the world is in a turmoil over the economic indices that continue to plummet. “For the Nigerian consumers, they should count themselves lucky given the kind regulator that the NCC is and indeed, the other government agencies that recognises their roles at a time like this,” he asserted.  

Speakers expected at the Forum would be drawn from operators, equipment suppliers, alternative services providers like the power sector, computer, Internet Services Providers and some concerned consumers of these services.

“They are expected to deliberate and seek for ways of improving the growth that the industry has already experienced,” he concluded.

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