Organized by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the consumer parliament is intended to bring together a spectrum of consumers face to face with telecom operators, in the presence of the regulator to present their grievances in a candid but straight forward manner.
This year, the parliament will be held under the theme “Empowering Consumers through Knowledge” and will focus on Quality of Service, Unsolicited Messages, and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities, among other communications service issues.
The event will take place at Imperial Royale Hotel onMarch 26th, 2015, starting at 9:00am.
Fred Otunnu, the Acting Director Broadcasting at the Uganda Communications Commission told PC Tech Magazine that the choice of the theme for the consumer parliament is anchored on the regulatory principle of the commission’s mandate in protecting consumers.
“Consumers are a key stakeholder in the ecosystem of the communication industry. It is only through empowerment through knowledge that they can then make meaningful contribution into that system,” said Mr. Fred Otunnu.
“As users of the variety of services on offer, it is only prudent that they (consumers) are equipped not only with knowledge on the kind of services in terms of pricing, value for money, and choice BUT also with their rights with regard to redress and entitlements,” he said.
During the inaugural consumer parliament in 2014 held under the theme ‘fix our phone rights,’ consumers and activists demanded that telecommunications companies put in place robust and efficient systems to address consumer complaints as well as duly compensating consumers for losses arising from unsolicited messages.
The telecom operators have time and again defended themselves saying that the increased vandalism and unstable electricity supply are to blame for the poor quality of service and not lack of investment.
Little wonder therefore that, six years later, quality of service related queries still persist in the sector despite a number of investments aimed at cushioning some challenges like electricity supply issues.
Similarly, UCC last month slapped a Ush5 billion fine on MTN Uganda for ‘repeatedly defying the Commission’s directive’ to desist from the using short codes 157,169, 178, and 183.
Asked whether the regulator is looking at taking similar action against operators that are falling short in terms of quality of service, Otunnu said that it is provided for in the law.
“With regard to imposition of sanctions, this is provided for in the law – Uganda Communications Act as a regulatory power for enforcement of its mandate. UCC shall where applicable and having exhausted all the procedural steps as provided under the law apply the most appropriate sanction to the offending operator,” he said.
All licensed service providers, consumer representatives, opinion leaders and the general public have been invited to attend the 2015 Consumer Parliament.