The second annual Communications Consumer Parliament 2015 was held at the imperial Royale Hotel on 31 st March. The event was attended by the Guest of Honour, was Hon. John Nasasira ICT minister, UCC Board members, Honourable Members of Parliament, Heads of Government Institutions, CEOs of telecom companies, Representatives of consumer protection bodies and the media. These were the remarks by the Executive Director of UCC Mr Godfrey Mutabazi at the Communications Consumer Parliament 2015 courtesy of UCC.
I am pleased to welcome you to this Second annual Communications Consumer Parliament whose theme is: “Empowering Consumers through Knowledge”. I am greatly delighted to see such a big number of participants eager to share experiences and challenges, brainstorm on possible solutions, and discuss potential collaboration in consumer protection in Uganda¡¯s communications sector.
Thank you for having spared time to come to this event.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you are aware, we held our first ever Consumer Parliament at this hotel last year on March 13.
We planned this event to be part of activities to celebrate the annual World Consumer Rights Day, which falls on March 15 of every year, aimed to mobilise citizen action all over the globe.
As I stated then, the objectives of this Parliament are:
- To provide consumers with an opportunity to express their concerns in relation to the theme;
- To enable service providers to address consumer issues as required of them; and
- To strengthen dialogue and elicit consumer views and input to regulatory policies and programmes.
One of the key objectives of the UCC, as the regulatory body of the communications sector in Uganda, is to promote consumer awareness and protect the interests of the consumer in the sector. Our regulatory policy is informed by the belief that the best way to protect consumers is to empower them with adequate information, and to provide them with a channel for redress of complaints.
The Commission has a consumer protection and empowerment policy which details regulatory measures in consumer protection. Therefore, holding of this Consumer Parliament is our latest effort in bringing the services closer to the public. Like we did last year, we are here to consult you on matters relating to improvement of quality of service in Uganda, among other pertinent issues.
Among others, I wish to thank the Consumer Advocacy groups who presented a petition on behalf of consumers of communication services to the service providers, the Commission and Government. Some of the pertinent issues in the petition were dropped calls, unending promotion messages and unsolicited messages as some of the major challenges in consumer exploitation.
Mr Sam Watasa, who read the petition, asked the following questions on behalf of the consumer:
- What am I being charged and what are the interconnection charges?;
- Reasons for frequent network failures which has proved to be a challenge;
- Unsolicited ringtones and eventual deductions;
- Free airtime offer;
- Unending promotions without clearly stating the terms and conditions; and
- Deduction made on money transfer platforms by all telecom companies.
In short, the consumers demanded for reasonable compensation of unsolicited ringtones that they do not subscribe for.
They also demanded for the setting up of a system of reimbursingtheirmoney. While the service providers and other stakeholders responded to these issues, they pledged to address these consumer concerns. I think, this Parliament has given us an opportunity to take stock of what has so far been done.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I do not intend to take much of your time as the agenda before us is long and critical. I hope that the outcomes of this Consumer Parliament will assist in strengthening our regulatory frameworks for protecting consumers in the converged ICT sector, while developing future strategies in Uganda.
Please, let us discuss openly, frankly but objectively.
With those remarks, it is now my honour to invite our Guest of Honour to come and address you.
Thank you for your attention.