• Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

NCC Hosts World Consumer Rights Day, Focuses On Fair, Responsible AI

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) commemorated World Consumer Rights Day on March 15th, 2024, with a special event held at the NCC Head Office in Maitama, Abuja. While the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Aminu Maida, was unable to attend due to pressing national issues, the occasion brought together key stakeholders, including management and staff of the Commission, CEOs and representatives of telecom service providers, and members of the press.

In his absence, Dr. Aminu Maida’s remarks were delivered, emphasizing the significance of World Consumer Rights Day in raising awareness about consumer rights and ensuring protection from unfair trade practices. Drawing on the history of the event, which dates back to President John F. Kennedy’s introduction of basic consumer rights in 1962, Dr. Maida underscored the evolving nature of consumer rights, including the right to privacy, quality of service, timely redress, and fair complaint processes.

Aligned with the global theme for this year’s World Consumer Rights Day, “Fair and Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the Consumer,” Dr. Maida highlighted the transformative impact of AI on various aspects of society. While acknowledging the benefits of AI in driving innovation and efficiency, he also emphasized the importance of using AI responsibly to guarantee consumer trust and prevent negative outcomes.

Dr. Maida outlined key principles for responsible AI, including transparency, privacy protection, and mechanisms for accountability. He emphasized the Commission’s commitment to promoting ethical AI development and deployment, ensuring inclusivity and equality, and safeguarding consumer privacy.

Addressing regulatory challenges associated with AI deployment, Dr. Maida emphasized the need for collaboration among stakeholders, including academia, industry, government, and society. He stressed the importance of striking the right balance between innovation and risk mitigation while ensuring security and trust in AI systems.

While focusing on Fair and Responsible AI, Dr. Maida also highlighted consumer-centric initiatives implemented by the NCC to address telecom consumer complaints and enhance consumer protection. These initiatives include the Consumer Complaints Management platform, toll-free lines, the Do-Not-Disturb code, consumer portals, and telecom consumer assistance centers.

In conclusion, Dr. Maida reiterated the Commission’s commitment to Protect, Inform, and Educate (PIE Mandate) consumers, particularly in the context of advancing AI technologies. He emphasized the need to foster innovation while safeguarding fundamental consumer rights and dignity.

The event served as a platform for stakeholders to engage in discussions on the responsible use of AI and the importance of consumer protection in the telecommunications industry.

In his welcome address, Mr. Clem Omife, Deputy Director of the Consumer Affairs Bureau at the NCC, underscored the significance of World Consumer Rights Day in highlighting consumer rights and protecting them from exploitation and unfair practices. He emphasized the importance of consumers in driving economic activities, quoting renowned economists like Adam Smith and John Wanamaker to illustrate the centrality of consumers in business operations.

Mr. Omife highlighted the Commission’s commitment to promoting consumer-centric initiatives aimed at protecting consumer rights and enhancing consumer education. These initiatives include various outreach programs such as Telecom Consumer Parliament, Telecom Consumer Conversations, Village Square Dialogue, Campus Conversation, NYSC Camp Sensitization, and Town Hall on Radio. Additionally, the Commission has published the Telecom Consumer Handbook, transcribed into Braille for the visually impaired, and is in the final process of deploying the Automated Consumer Complaints Management system to improve complaint resolution.

He emphasized that consumers occupy a special position in the Commission’s activities, as they are the driving force behind the telecommunications industry. Mr. Omife extended a warm welcome to attendees at the NCC’s 2024 Celebration of World Consumer Rights Day, affirming the Commission’s dedication to consumer protection and empowerment.

The event provided a platform for stakeholders to reaffirm their commitment to promoting consumer rights and fostering a fair and transparent telecommunications environment in Nigeria.

Hyacinth Beluchukwu Nwafor

Hyacinth Beluchukwu Nwafor is a seasoned journalist and the CEO/Founder Belch Digital Communications, publishers of Hybrid News Nigeria.

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