After an official directive for the suspension of sales of SIM cards without being registered, most of the cards are still being sold by major telecommunication companies in Nigeria who ignore the warning of the federal government given by Professor Dora Akunyili, the Information Minister.
The Economic Confidential gathered that the new directive against the sales of SIM cards without capturing the necessary data was influenced by difficulties in tracking faceless criminals who use mobile phones for illegal activities coupled with the poor telephone services in Nigeria.
It is also gathered that the government was alarmed by the fraudulent manners some of the telecommunications companies themselves engage in unholy lottery to extort money from their subscribers by promoting unrealistic jackpots.
The government had expected full compliance on the directive over the SIMCARD registration.
Professor Dora Akunyili at at a meeting with some of the stakeholders in her office regretted that telecom companies now redefined their business focus from core telecom service provision to defacto lottery vendors. She wondered: “Why should they employ all manners of tricks to lure unsuspecting subscribers into parting with their hard earned money with the promise of huge rewards.’’
While announcing the stoppage of all lottery activities by the operators she observed that many of such promotions neither followed due process and nor approved by Nigeria Lottery Regulatory Commission.
They warned the companies to equally stop invading subscriber’s privacy through unsolicited text messages.
Professor Akunyili clearly stated that the Federal Government of Nigeria is not oblivious of some challenges such as equipment compatibility and interoperability and promised to look into them in good time.
The Minister used the opportunity of the interactive session to state that the present administration is displeased with the poor quality of service of Mobile phone operators which has become a recurring decimal and promised to tackle them head on. She therefore directed the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to submit to her office within two weeks a comprehensive plan of action on how to improve quality of service.
Prof. Akunyili regretted that Drop calls have remained a problem despite constant appeals for improvement. Also, poor voice signal quality and reception are becoming peculiar to Nigeria. This, in turn wastes money and time as well as create image problem for the country. This is because Nigerians are seen as having a culture of shouting on phone instead of talking. Other areas identified by the Minister of concern to Nigerian telecom subscribers are high tariffs, number portability, which gives the Consumer the freedom of choice to move from one network to another without having to lose his/her number and the issue of Lottery.
On the issue of Towers and Masts, the Minister enjoined operators to abide by the regulations guiding their location and erection. Also, the rights of other corporate and individual citizens should not be infringed upon.
Similarly, adequate care must be taken to ensure that exhaust fumes from generators do to constitute health hazard.
Aside from stressing the imperative of consumer education on telecom products, services and packages, the Minister also mandated the NCC to demand that Operators submit education manuals to it for vetting on service bouquets before they are introduced into the market.
Prof. Akunyili promised that the government would put measures in place to ensure maximum synergy is derived from the convergence of telecom and broadcast technologies.
The session was witnessed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Alhaji M.S. Bashar, Directors, top government officials, some Chief Executive Officers and Representatives of Telecom Operators in Nigeria.