Banks owe telcos N17bn for USSD access - NCC

Prof Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO Nigerian Communications Service
Emeh Joy

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta has revealed that commercial banks in Nigeria owe telecommunication over N17bn for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data access.

According to him, the debt accumulated after the regulator suspended its determination on the USSD pricing in 2019.

Danbatta spoke at ATCON's virtual forum with the theme, "Meeting the interests of government, consumers and telecoms companies in the era of COVID-19 and post COVID-19 pandemic for digital economy development" on Thursday.

Danbatta announced that it had revised the determination on the USSD in order to protect the interests of consumers and support a robust telecommunications sector.

The Executive Vice-President noted that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami had already been briefed on the development with the view to take the necessary steps to ensure that the debts are quickly settled.

He explained the efforts of the commission at resolving the consumer-related issues and noted that the commission introduced the Do-Not-disturb code in 2015, less than 5000,000 people activated the code.

But now, (about five years later), there are currently 22,722,366 lines on the DND.

Speaking on the quality of service, Danbatta said, "The commission has monthly engagements with operators as well as quarterly industry working group on quality of service and shortcodes, and is currently monitoring 2G Key Performance Indicators, while the KPIs for 4G are being prepared".

Meanwhile, the minister Pantami said an executive order would soon be put in place which would aim at protecting telecommunications infrastructure across the country.

He explained that the executive order had been reviewed by the relevant authorities and was awaiting presidential approval.

He further added that his ministry was harmonising the right way of charges based on the agreement reached with the governor's forum.

He urged MNOs not to compromise on the agreement by paying exorbitant RoW charges to state governments, adding that they should report illegal taxes to the ministry for appropriate resolution.

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