The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) held its 2nd quarter Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) meeting on Thursday, June 22, 2023, at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos.
The forum brought together key stakeholders, including regulators, service providers, and consumers of telecommunication products and services, to address the pressing issue of combating e-fraud on telecom platforms and building consumer confidence in the digital economy.
The event began with a keynote address delivered by Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission.
Prof. Danbatta emphasized the importance of tackling fraudulent activities in the digital realm and the need for proactive measures to safeguard consumer trust.
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He highlighted the role of the telecom sector in enabling Nigeria’s digital transformation and emphasized the challenges posed by the rising tide of e-fraud and cybersecurity concerns.
“E-fraud encompasses a wide range of malicious activities carried out via electronic means, with the intention to defraud or take advantage of victims,” Prof. Danbatta explained.
“These criminal activities not only cause significant financial losses but also erode consumer trust in the digital ecosystem.”
To combat e-fraud, the NCC, as the regulator of the communications sector, is working towards establishing comprehensive legal frameworks and standards that mandate sound security practices for telecom operators.
The commission also collaborates with mobile network operators to ensure network safety through regular audits and assessments.
Additionally, the NCC is developing elaborate Data Protection Regulations to safeguard the privacy of data in the Nigerian communications sector.
The Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF), established by the NCC, plays a vital role in protecting and promoting the interests of consumers against unfair practices.
The forum acts as a platform for collaboration between regulators, service providers, and consumers, ensuring fair treatment and an acceptable quality of experience for ICT product and service users.
Addressing the forum, Mazi Akpa E. Emeka, Chairman of ICAF, highlighted the escalating fraud in the digital landscape and the need for organizations to simultaneously combat fraud while providing seamless digital experiences for customers.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to digital and multichannel client services, leading to increased digital adoption and new forms of fraudulent activities.
“Although most companies have improved their digital user interface and experience, many have struggled to effectively enhance fraud controls without impairing the client experience,” noted Mazi Emeka.
He emphasized the importance of adopting a proactive approach to combatting fraud and proposed a new strategy to strengthen core capabilities and continually address vulnerabilities arising from new fraud methods and patterns.
The forum emphasized the role of consumers in the battle against e-fraud. Building consumer awareness and promoting digital literacy were identified as crucial steps to empower individuals to protect themselves.
Telecom operators were urged to educate their customers about potential risks, provide guidance on secure online practices, and transparently communicate their security measures and incident response mechanisms.
Collaboration between industry, academia, and research institutions was also emphasized to drive innovation in cybersecurity and develop effective countermeasures against e-fraud.
The Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) meeting concluded with a shared commitment from all stakeholders to work together to create a safer digital ecosystem that inspires trust and enables the full potential of the digital economy.
The NCC’s continued efforts to combat e-fraud, protect consumers, and promote the digital economy demonstrate its dedication to ensuring a secure and trustworthy digital environment for all Nigerian citizens.
In the words of Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, “Together, let us rise to the challenge and build a future where the telecom platform is not only a gateway to the digital economy but also a haven where consumer interests are safeguarded, and trust is paramount.”