MASAKA – In yet another effort to woo consumers of ICT services, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), on Friday, March 29 lectured Masaka residents on their rights as well as to improve the commission’s engagement with consumers.
Speaking at the 8th communications consumer parliament held at Brovad Hotel in Masaka, UCC Executive Director Mr. Godfrey Mutabazi in a speech read by Ms. Julienne Mweheire, the Director for Industry Affairs and Content Development at UCC urged consumers to raise their grievances with a service provider to get them fixed.
“If a customer is not satisfied with the way the service provider handles their issue, they can choose to report the problem directly to the UCC,” he noted at an event that culminated a two-week drive whose theme was “Be Right, Know Your Rights”.
Mr. Mutabazi also informed the residents that all licensed telecommunication providers have customer contact centres and can be reached at through Toll- Free lines.
Under this arrangement, each operator is expected to handle and resolve 90 percent of all complaints received within 24 hours.
The Consumer Parliament is a brainstorming forum initiated by UCC in 2014 to reach out to ICT consumers and discuss potential collaboration in consumer protection in Uganda’s communications sector.
The objectives of this Parliament include key among others; to provide consumers with an opportunity to express their concerns, enabling service providers of communication services to address and respond to consumer issues as well as concerns.
Others include strengthening dialogue and elicit consumer views and input to regulatory policies and programmes.
In 2014, he noted that UCC decided to hold this consumer parliament as part of activities to celebrate the annual World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD), slated March 15 every year.
The day aims at mobilising citizen action all over the globe. “So, this Parliament comes precisely 14 days after we commemorated the World Consumer Rights Day 2019 under the theme: “Trusted Smart Products”.
The Guest of Honour Mr. Vincent Bagiire, also ICT and National Guidance Ministry Permanent Secretary, lauded UCC for “coming out of its comfort zone” to reach out to consumers at the grassroots level saying the forum not only brings consumers the broadest possible range of informed choice of communications goods and services at reasonable prices, but it promotes efficiency and stability.
He added that it also helps to create positive outcomes for the communications sector as well.
“It is essential that the Uganda Communications Commission, and my ministry, fully engage with all participants in the communications sector so that we can better understand the pertinent issues affecting consumers of communications services. This type of dialogue can only make UCC more effective in its regulatory mandate and better able to protect consumers,” he noted.
Mr. Bagiire however, highlighted that the country continues to grapple with cybercrime and other internet related threats.
“While we are proud of the progress made in consumer protection work over the last few years, we are aware and mindful of the need for continuous improvement. Having over 20 million mobile subscriptions nationwide communicates the amount of work we need to be doing to ensure that all enjoy communications,” Mr. Bagiire noted.
In 2018, UCC received over 2,000 queries and complaints through multiple channels including social media and toll-free services. 89% of these were successfully resolved to the satisfaction of the complainants
The top five issues complained about include; problems with SIM card registration and swapping, mobile money services, cybercrime and fraud, incorrect billing, and poor quality of service.
Doris Mvano from Africell Uganda represented all telecom operators. She noted that electronic loading of airtime has reduced thefts, it’s more convenient and easy to load, any amount of airtime can be loaded, and it’s in alignment with international Industry standards
The Head for PR and International Relations at UCC, Mr. Ibrahim Kibuuka Bbossa, also made a presentation to lecture consumers and responded to their concerns.
Key among the issues discussed include quality of service (especially dropped and blocked calls), witchcraft advertising on electronic media and counterfeit ICT products on the market.
Like previously, customers also petitioned UCC on SIM Card registration, billing, data and airtime, online safety, online publishing, local content among others.
On sign language on TV stations, Mr. Bbossa told the consumer parliament that UCC is sponsoring this programme on UBC.
It should be remembered that UCC had set January 1, 2019, for television broadcasters to provide sign language and subtitles in major newscasts and programmes of national significance for persons with disabilities.
Although the deadline elapsed, this website understands that only a few television stations have responded to this directive.