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Congolese regulator to understudy Nigeria’s telecoms market

By Adeyemi Adepetun
24 December 2021   |   3:33 am
CONGO-Brazzaville Telecommunications Regulations Authority (CTRA) has expressed its readiness to tap from the success of Nigeria’s telecoms market.

Benjamin Mouandza

CONGO-Brazzaville Telecommunications Regulations Authority (CTRA) has expressed its readiness to tap from the success of Nigeria’s telecoms market.

This was made known when a delegation from the central African nation paid a scheduled visit to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), essentially to understudy the latter’s policies, practices and programmes that have made it a model telecommunications regulatory authority on the continent and beyond.

The Congolese team, led by CTRA’s Network Director, Benjamin Mouandza, spent three days at the NCC Head Office in Abuja, where it was exposed to key result-oriented regulatory activities, frameworks, programmes and policies of NCC, with the objective to explore how such operational frameworks could be adapted by the African nation noted for its huge rainforest reserves.

In the letter written to the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Congloese regulator had indicated interest to gaining more insights into three areas of NCC’s regulatory activities, namely, management of issues associated with Quality of Service (QoS), SIM Boxing and Call Masking, as well as telecom equipment type-approval process.

In response to the request, Danbatta accepted to host the team and further directed relevant departments of NCC, including Special Duties (SD); Technical Standards and Network Integrity (TSNI); and the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement (CME) directorates to interact with the team to provide necessary information sharing that may be useful to the Congolese counterpart.

Addressing the CTRA team, the NCC’s Director, TSNI, Bako Wakil, spoke on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) instituted by NCC on QoS and how these KPIs are measured and monitored by the Commission toward ensuring improved service delivery to the Nigeria’s ever-growing telecoms consumers. He said this also helped to improve Quality of Experience (QoE) of the consumers.

On type-approval process, Wakil stated that the Commission had developed a rigorous process to ensure that telecoms equipment, including terminal devices, manufactured in line with international standards and specifications are brought into the country.

The “NCC is serious about type-approval process like other processes, because non-type approved devices and equipment which are also not manufactured to international standards and specifications have negative implications for quality of service delivery on the networks,” he said.

Wakil also spoke extensively on call masking and highlighted measures the NCC had put in place to address the menace. He described call masking as “the practice of sending international calls to an operator but disguising the calls as if they were local by sending the calls on the local interconnect route with a local number in the national numbering plan instead of the original international calling number.”

In a related presentation to the visiting team on SIM boxing fraud and efforts being taken by the NCC to combat the menace, NCC’s Director, CME, Ephraim Nwokonneya, spoke on the problems created by fraudulent practice of SIM Boxing, including threat to national security, loss of revenue to service providers and the government.

Additionally, he asserted the anti-competitive practices associated with such acts among licensees as well as the general economic implications so evident in revenue loss.

However, Nwokonneya itemised solutions to SIM Boxing fraud from a regulatory perspective.

He declared that regulators can deploy anti-SIM boxing and call masking solutions, be proactive and effective in monitoring and enforcement, collaboration with the industry and law enforcement agencies, capacity building through training and skill acquisition programmes, as well as the review of the Enforcement Regulations and enabling laws.

Commenting on the benefits of the visit, CTRA’s Mouandza, said the choice made by the Congolese regulator to visit NCC on a benchmarking tour has been worthwhile. “We have come to understand how the regulator in Nigeria has been handling some salient regulatory issues and matters in the country as it relates to telecoms. In the course of this visit, I can say that our objective has been achieved. The experience has been very rich and we have learnt many things. We thank the EVC and his team for accepting to host us. We are more positioned now to replicate some of the things we have learnt in our telecoms market back home,” he said.