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Dealing with Perennial Poor Quality of Service

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Telecommunications - Investors King
  • Dealing with Perennial Poor Quality of Service

The issue of poor service quality reared up its ugly head for the first time in 2006, after the expiration of the five-year exclusivity period granted the first set of licensed telecoms operators that rolled out in 2001, and since then it has been a recurrent issue, writes Emma Okonji.

When Econet Wireless Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria) first rolled out its telecommunication commercial services on August 8, 2001, followed by MTN Nigeria, a week after, the quality of service was awesome and without hitches.

The quality was maintained even after Globacom rolled out in 2003, and Nigerians were pleased with the service, which was mainly dominated by voice calls. At that time a caller will generate a call at one dial and will connect easily to the call recipient and discussions done in several minutes without each party experiencing drop calls. There was no network congestion then that would warrant drop calls and subscribers were happy with network operators. Within this period, subscriber number was not much, compared to what it is today. Total subscribers’ number was less than 5 million at that time, but today there are over 150 million connected lines.

But shortly after the expiration of the five-year exclusivity period, precisely in 2006, telecoms subscribers started experiencing poor service quality, ranging from drop calls, inability to recharge, call diversion, poor voice clarity, to inability to make successful calls.

The situation continued and degenerated as more subscribers were registered, and subscribers complained.

When Etisalat was eventually registered in 2008, and it rolled out its services in 2008, its network appeared better than that of existing operators, but Etisalat started suffering the same poor quality, few years after, when its subscribers’ number increased rapidly.

Telecoms experts have blamed network congestion on the inability of operators to expand their networks, commensurate with the number of subscribers they register on their networks, while others have blamed the situation on obsolete telecoms facilities that do not have the capacity to accommodate the expanded subscribers’ number.

Disturbed by the situation, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) came up with all manners of measures to address the issue, including sanctions, but the issue of poor service quality persisted across networks.

NCC’s Recent Measures

Worried by the degenerating quality of service (QoS) provided by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other service providers, the NCC, recently came up with new measures to address the ugly trend, which appears endless.

As part of new measures to cushion the situation and ameliorate the recurrent inaccessibility to foreign exchange (forex) by operators, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, told the operators that the commission had written to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and he was favourably disposed to addressing the forex needs of the operators.

Specifically, as a follow-up to the letter, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management at NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare, had a meeting with CBN Governor and extracted a commitment from him on how he hoped to address the forex needs of the operators.

Danbatta, who spoke with the operators in Abuja during an interactive session on service quality delivery which NCC management had with operators, said since the NCC had declared 2017 as the year of the consumer, all hands should be on deck for telecom consumers to have a fresh lease to high quality of service. “The consumer has to be treated with dignity,” Danbatta added, saying the “8-point agenda drives this point home.”

The NCC, he explained, has put measures in place to check and monitor QoS on various networks “and we have sent this report to our task force on QoS and have been interacting with governments at different levels as part of the measures to deal with the poor QoS”.

Danbatta admonished the operators and co-location service operators to provide suggestions on how to address the situation.

Earlier, NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Mr. Ubale Maska said, QoS has been a great concern as consumers inundate the commission with complaints.

“It requires everybody’s input if the situation has to be redressed, hence 2017 has been declared the year of the Consumer,” Maska said.

NCC Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity (DTSNI), Dr. Fidelis Ona, explained that the commission was aware of some of the challenges which include Right of Way (RoW), difficulty in acquiring new cell sites, multiple taxation and regulation, vandalism, power supply among others.

“We are engaging stakeholders, including Industry Working Group on Quality of Service, special committee on Counter Harmonization to address this,” Ona said.

NCC’s Head, Quality of Service Unit, Edoyemi Ogoh, in his presentation traced poor quality of service to fibre cuts, community issues, among others.

He said in October 2016, operators experienced 175 cuts across the nation while they recorded 180 cuts in November and 103 in December, 2016. There were 113 community issues in October 2016, 74 in November and 133 in December, adding that fibre cuts and community issues remain major drawbacks for QoS.

Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at MTN Nigeria, Mr. Hassan Jamil, expressed happiness with the interactive session, and said it would help the regulator to know the situation on a one-on-one basis.

Subscribers’ Pains

The issue of poor service quality has caused a great deal of pains to subscribers. At every consumer parliament organised by NCC, consumer complaints on poor service quality always take the centre stage. Most subscribers at some point in time will remain incommunicado, especially at festive periods like Yuletide, because they could not make calls as a result of network congestion. Some text messages were delivered days after the messages were sent, and at the time the message would be received, the essence of sending the message which had been billed, would have been defeated.

In order to address the challenges, the Chief Executive Officer of Teledom Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, called for increased access to ubiquitous broadband across the country. In a similar vein, the President of National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOM), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, also called for increase in the number of Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), otherwise known as base stations. Ogunbanjo said Britain with a population of less than Nigeria’s 180 million people, has over 65,000 base stations, while Nigeria is still struggling to maintain about 20, 000 base stations across the country.

Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, however called for growth in local content development in the telecoms sector, which he said would boost telecoms growth among small indigenous players. He said Nigeria should be able to address its collective challenges, to enable telecoms subscribers enjoy the achievements of the sector, since the rollout of GSM services in the country in 2001.

Economic Loss

Both the operators and subscribers suffer economic loss, once there is network congestion that affects successful calls. According to the operators, they are never happy when there is network congestion because what that means is loss of revenue for the operators since people will not be able to make calls and browse the internet.

In the same manner, subscribers who have business calls to make that could fetch them good money, will end up losing funds in the process.

Operators’ Position

Telecoms operators who attended the recent meeting with the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, listed some of their challenges as it relates to poor service quality, and made some suggestions on how to address the issue. They were of the view that scarcity of dollar has worsened the situation, and has resulted to their inability to import equipment to boost network expansion. According to them, we can’t transmit forex to vendors, we have issues with incessant fibre cuts, community related challenges, scarcity of diesel to power base stations, Right of Way issues with different layers of government in the regions, as well as sabotage at different levels. “We planned to install 100 sites for Abuja this year, but after a very long time, we were only able to build six because of the bottlenecks of getting approvals and until we resolve these, quality of service will be a mirage,” the operators told Danbatta at the recent meeting.

The issue of poor service quality, no doubt, is affecting both the operators and the subscribers, and the onus lies on NCC to find a lasting solution to it, in order to bring hope alive.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Fintech

OPay Urges Customers to Complete BVN, NIN Verification Following CBN Directive

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Opay

OPay, a prominent financial services firm, has called upon its customers to finalize the verification of their accounts by linking their Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) or National Identity Numbers (NIN) in accordance with the recent directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The CBN, in a circular dated December 1, mandated all deposit money banks to enforce a ‘Post no Debit’ restriction on accounts lacking BVN or NIN.

Accounts without BVN would be placed under a ‘Post No Debit or Credit’ status from March 1, as outlined in the circular jointly signed by Chibuzo Efobi and Haruna Mustapha, Directors at the Payments System Management Department and Financial Policy and Regulation Department, respectively.

OPay affirmed the CBN’s directive and emphasized the necessity for account holders to complete the verification process.

Dauda Gotring, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of OPay, emphasized the importance of a secure and seamless experience for customers.

He encouraged users to comply with the verification process, reassuring them of the company’s commitment to a smooth process and 24/7 customer support.

OPay provided multiple channels for customer assistance, including in-app self-service, WhatsApp, phone lines, and social media platforms.

The company’s commitment to inclusivity and technological advancement underscores its mission to enhance financial services accessibility across Nigeria.

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Telecommunications

MTN Group Ltd. Reports 90% Plunge in Profit Amid Nigeria’s Currency Woes

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MTN

MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest wireless service provider, has announced a 90% decline in its full-year profit following the plunge in Nigerian Naira.

The company revealed that its earnings per share for the year ending December fell to a range of 1.07 rand to 3.21 rand (approximately 6 to 17 US cents), a significant drop from 10.71 rand recorded in 2022.

The Nigerian naira, which experienced a 49% depreciation in 2023 and an additional 44% decline this year, has emerged as a significant factor impacting MTN’s financial performance.

As one of the world’s worst-performing currencies against the dollar, the naira’s instability has created a volatile economic environment, prompting concerns among international businesses operating in Nigeria.

The currency crisis, stemming from a shortage of dollars and exacerbated by policy missteps and corruption, has led to an exodus of multinational corporations seeking to repatriate earnings from Africa’s largest economy.

Nigeria, with its burgeoning young population and growing tech sector, has struggled to address economic dysfunction despite its vast natural resources.

MTN Group Ltd., which boasts approximately 77 million customers in Nigeria, historically derives a substantial portion of its earnings from the country.

However, the company’s shares plummeted by as much as 7.2% in early trading following the profit announcement, reflecting investor concerns over the challenging operating environment.

Despite the bleak financial report, MTN highlighted positive metrics such as a 45% increase in data traffic and a 49% surge in mobile money transaction volumes.

However, the company refrained from providing guidance on its earnings margins, further adding to uncertainties surrounding its future financial performance.

Analysts underscored the importance of regulatory stability and economic reforms in Nigeria to restore investor confidence and mitigate the impact of currency fluctuations on companies like MTN.

As businesses navigate the economic landscape, the resilience of Nigeria’s currency and regulatory framework remains a critical concern for investors and industry stakeholders alike.

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Fintech

Leatherback Set for International Growth as EFCC Drops all Fraud and Misconduct Allegations

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Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has dropped all allegations of fraud and misconduct against Leatherback, a leading financial services technology company, and the company’s CEO, Toyeeb Ibrahim Ibitade.

In November 2023, EFCC announced that it had been made aware of the possibility of fraudulent activities on the Leatherback platform, leading to an investigation into the company’s operations to establish the facts. Cooperating fully with EFCC and working transparently with the organisation’s officials to provide a forensic view of its operations, Leatherback was able to unequivocally prove its innocence, leading the EFCC to drop all allegations and take down all previous communications on its website and social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) around the matter.

Leatherback supported the EFCC investigation by making over 5,000 printed documents available to officials to enable as much clarity as possible. Leatherback also filed Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) in the UK and Nigeria.

According to Toyeeb Ibrahim Ibitade, CEO of Leatherback, “I am relieved to see the end of this arduous episode, but I am even more delighted to see that myself and Leatherback, as an organisation, have been completely cleared of all wrongdoing. With this episode firmly behind us, we are poised to accelerate our mission to provide a single access point that empowers individuals and businesses to be truly global, delivering best-in-class financial, payment, and commerce solutions that remove barriers to global growth and mobility for all citizens of the world.”

Headquartered in London, Leatherback is regulated in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Canada, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, enabling the platform to serve customers across a wide range of markets effectively. Tens of thousands of individuals and businesses already use the platform to support business and lifestyle opportunities every day. Leatherback is also FCA Authorised, PCI DSS Compliant, and ISO Certified.

About Leatherback

Leatherback offers financial services to businesses and individuals in multiple countries with no restrictions. Users can access up to 15 currencies from 21 countries, including NGN, GBP, INR, EUR, USD, and many other currencies. Users can also send and collect money locally and internationally, with invoicing, analytics, and permissions features available for businesses.

For more information, please visit: http://www.leatherback.co

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