Consumer Diaries, November 04, 2011
The pronouncements by the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) to enhance on consumer protection measures through an apprehensive monitoring and shelving off, of substandard ICT products is a welcome move.
Enhancement of consumer’s access to better ICTs products and services is of exigency. And this enhanced access can only be achieved through having a sound regulatory framework which ZICTA has began to embrace. A functional and effective regulatory system is one of the pre-conditions to guarantee democracy in the market that benefits both the market players and consumer welfare.
“To guarantee democracy in the ICT market that hedge and bring about equal benefits to both the consumers and market players, the regulatory decision making process should be transparent, participatory and open to public/Consumers. As this exploration has been seen to carry ZICTA ‘s day to day activities, it will no sooner than later not only ensure accountability of the regulatory process but will also increase the acceptability of regulatory decisions among the consumers hence ensuring greater public support for the institution, “says Simon Ng’ona, Centre Coordinator, Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International Lusaka.
He encouraged ZICTA, as the guardian of both market player’s and consumers interests in the ICT sector, to continue improving its visibility by means of a strategic media and publicity campaigns to gunner cross stakeholder support in the enforcement and delivery of ICT Act.
“What will also guarantee such an outcome is the engagement consumer groups and other civil society and community-based (including faith-based) organisations with the process and outcomes of ICT regulation. Most of these organisations will need to be equipped with necessary information, knowledge (on process as well as content) and skills so that they perform their role of an effective watchdog and generate a better political buy-in for ICT reforms, “he said.
He has also encouraged the authority to invest more in periodic surveys sighting that this will make the authority be more proactive in detecting a great deal on both existing and emerging consumer concerns and subsequently address them hastily.
“Research is a key tool for understanding what consumer priorities are in terms of which issues need to be addressed, and assessing consumers’ views of the effectiveness of consumer protection interventions undertaken by the regulator..” he said.”While price and quality may be obvious current issues, the areas of most concern will change once they have been addressed. Higher levels of competition may bring lower prices. Quality thresholds may drive better quality of service. So it may be that issues will change over time, and the use of survey work and consultation with consumer groups are two different ways of keeping in touch with these changes”.
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