- NCC Restates Commitment to Telecom Consumers
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) last week reiterated its commitment to protect telecoms consumers across the country.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who made the commitment in Abuja during the celebration of the 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer, said: “In 2015, Nigerian telecom consumers spent $5.6 billion on telecommunications services, and in 2016, they topped it up by another $1billion to make it $6.6 billion. This, among others, call for celebration and the consumer must be seen as king in every transaction that affects them.”
While addressing the issues with telecoms consumers at the forum, Danbatta dwelt on the preeminence of the consumer, and declared that the consumer would be the focus of NCC in 2017 and beyond. According to him, NCC took a management decision that compelled it to seek to amplify its activities towards ensuring the consumer enjoys a customer experience that is enhanced and content in time and quality.
“The telecom weak link, rightly or wrongly is the consumer, and there are no small consumers as those who scratch N200.00 worth of card and the one who spends N100,000.00 are equal,” Danbatta declared.
Danbatta’s 8-point agenda, which he launched in Lagos on January 27, 2016 and in Kano, February 12, 2016, which aptly captured the consumer as the key focus of the agenda, dwelt on facilitating broadband penetration, improve service quality, optimising usage and benefits of spectrum, promoting innovation and investment opportunities, facilitating strategic collaboration and partnership, protecting and empowering consumers, promoting fair competition and inclusive growth as well as ensuring regulatory excellence and operational efficiency.
He explained that while the second point agenda captured the consumer as it relates to service quality, the sixth agenda talked about protection of the consumer. The goal is to protect the consumer from unfair practices by providing information and education to them.
“This is being actively pursued by strengthening initiatives, to educate and inform consumers in their use of communications services and act swiftly whenever necessary in the use of enforcement to protect telecom services consumers’ rights and privileges,” Danbatta said.
On the menace of unsolicited telemarketing whereby consumers receive unsolicited text messages and calls, Danbatta said: “NCC has introduced the Do Not Disturb (DND) facility where consumers are expected to activate the same by dialing 2442. Part of the plan to actualise the year of Nigerian Telecom Consumer is the determination of NCC to ensure that the consumer experiences improved service quality in the year 2017 and beyond. The commission is also implementing measures to reduce Dropped Call Rate (DCR) to meet its industry benchmark of less than one percent.”
“It will closely monitor, track and review the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of operators by network integrity and technical standards. Greater efforts would also be put in compliance, monitoring and enforcement of set standards.”
Danbatta allayed the fears of other stakeholders in the sector, saying, “Our focus on the consumer this year does not in any way suggest neglect of the other stakeholders in the sector. Rather it suggests a recommitment to consumer satisfaction. NCC is driven by the desire to empower the consumer and it is rolling out new initiatives to achieve this.”
Also at the forum, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare, further gave insight on the significance of the declaration.
Dare said many would want to ask why the need for the NCC 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer? He, however, explained, using the analogy of the five Ws and H in journalism.
On why the consumer is important, Dare said: “The consumer is important as the oxygen that keeps telcos alive. The consumer is a major stakeholder whose satisfaction matters. The satisfaction of the consumer will help the telcos increase their revenue base. NCC as a regulator is mandated to protect, inform and educate consumers.”
On the issue of why, he said: “The campaign runs in year 2017 and beyond. Every time we seek to engage and explore ways to make customer experience better is the when of this campaign.”
According to him, NCC would continue to provide unique and timely information to empower the consumer, by engaging stakeholders in a constructive way to ensure that they work with the NCC, by ensuring quality of service across board.
The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu commended NCC for the timely declaration.
“The Theme for the World Consumer Right Day 2017 is ‘Building a Digital World Consumers Can Trust’ it is therefore very apt for the NCC to declare 2017 the year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer since the theme of the 2017 WCRD celebration falls within the purview of the NCC regulatory activities and oversight functions on the telecom industry” the minister noted.
Oil Prices Recover Slightly Amidst Demand Concerns in U.S. and China
Oil Prices Continue Slide as Market Skepticism Grows Over OPEC+ Cuts
Global oil markets witnessed a continued decline on Wednesday as investors assessed the impact of extended OPEC+ cuts against a backdrop of diminishing demand prospects in China.
Brent crude oil, the international benchmark for Nigerian crude oil, declined by 63 cents to $76.57 a barrel while U.S. WTI crude oil lost 58 cents to $71.74 a barrel.
Last week, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, agreed to maintain voluntary output cuts of approximately 2.2 million barrels per day through the first quarter of 2024.
Despite this effort to tighten supply, market sentiment remains unresponsive.
“The decision to further reduce output from January failed to stimulate the market, and the recent, seemingly coordinated, assurances from Saudi Arabia and Russia to extend the constraints beyond 1Q 2024 or even deepen the cuts if needed have also fallen to deaf ears,” noted PVM analyst Tamas Varga.
Adding to the unease, Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut its official selling price (OSP) for flagship Arab Light to Asia in January for the first time in seven months raises concerns about the struggling demand for oil.
Amid the market turmoil, concerns over China’s economic health cast a shadow, potentially limiting fuel demand in the world’s second-largest oil consumer.
Moody’s recent decision to lower China’s A1 rating outlook from stable to negative further contributes to the apprehension.
Analysts will closely watch China’s preliminary trade data, including crude oil import figures, set to be released on Thursday.
The outcome will provide insights into the trajectory of China’s refinery runs, with expectations leaning towards a decline in November.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia has added an extra layer of complexity to the oil market dynamics.
Discussions centered around the cooperation between Russia, the UAE, and OPEC+ in major oil and gas projects, highlighting the intricate geopolitical factors influencing oil prices.
U.S. Crude Production Hits Another Record, Posing Challenges for OPEC
U.S. crude oil production reached a new record in September, surging by 224,000 barrels per day to 13.24 million barrels per day.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a consecutive monthly increase, adding 342,000 barrels per day over the previous three months, marking an annualized growth rate of 11%.
The surge in domestic production has led to a buildup of crude inventories and a softening of prices, challenging OPEC⁺ efforts to stabilize the market.
Despite a decrease in the number of active drilling rigs over the past year, U.S. production continues to rise.
This growth is attributed to enhanced drilling efficiency, with producers focusing on promising sites and drilling longer horizontal well sections to maximize contact with oil-bearing rock.
While OPEC⁺ production cuts have stabilized prices at relatively high levels, U.S. producers are benefiting from this stability.
The current strategy seems to embrace non-OPEC non-shale (NONS) producers, similar to how North Sea producers did in the 1980s.
Saudi Arabia, along with its OPEC⁺ partners, is resuming its role as a swing producer, balancing the market by adjusting its output.
Despite OPEC’s inability to formally collaborate with U.S. shale producers due to antitrust laws, efforts are made to include other NONS producers like Brazil in the coordination system.
This outreach aligns with the historical pattern of embracing rival producers to maintain control over a significant share of global production.
In contrast, U.S. gas production hit a seasonal record high in September, reaching 3,126 billion cubic feet.
However, unlike crude, there are signs that gas production growth is slowing due to very low prices and the absence of a swing producer.
Gas production increased by only 1.8% in September 2023 compared to the same month the previous year.
While the gas market is in the process of rebalancing, excess inventories may persist, keeping prices low.
The impact of a strengthening El Niño in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean could further influence temperatures and reduce nationwide heating demand, impacting gas prices in the coming months.
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