The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has met with the members of the Consumer Rights Protection Committee (CRPC), at the first meeting after CRPC reconstitution, in the presence of the Executive President of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) Hossam El-Gamal.
The meeting discussed and delved into various CRPC activities, and reviewed NTRA strategy launched in 2020 to protect consumers’ rights. It also reviewed the most significant NTRA initiatives to enable consumers to select the most appropriate mobile network operator (MNO) and service and raise their awareness; develop NTRA regulatory frameworks to ensure the protection of consumers’ rights, and provide mechanisms to measure service quality as well as a methodology to handle consumers’ complaints.
During the meeting, the ICT Minister highlighted that CRPC key role is to represent consumers’ voice outside NTRA and present constructive opinions and proposals on all relevant matters. He pointed out that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and its executive agencies are keen to improve the quality of telecommunications services provided to citizens.
The ICT Minister revealed the efforts made to develop the digital infrastructure by increasing the number of cell sites to improve the quality of mobile services provided to citizens and implementing a project to install fiber optic cables nationwide according to a time frame. The project aims to replace copper cables with fiber optic ones to provide broadband Internet services.
Talaat declared that around 2,930 cell sites were established during the past year, an increase of 3% of the targeted sites. He pointed out that fiber optics cables have been installed in 78 villages within the framework of the first phase of the Decent Life initiative. He underlined that the ICT sector is the highest among the state’s sectors, for four years in a row, achieving a growth rate of about 16.7% in 2022.
For his part, El-Gamal said that he was pleased with the new reconstitution of CRPC. He stated that CRPC is a committee established according to the Telecommunication Regulation Law No. 10 of 2003. Its executive authority is empowered by NTRA and its effective role in regulating and governing the telecommunications market. Meanwhile, NTRA is the Committee’s executive authority.
El-Gamal emphasized NTRA keenness to support users of telecommunications services in receiving their rights in the Egyptian market and increase and diversify the services provided to Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). NTRA has launched various initiatives to support PwDs to receive services, such as telecom user complaint call center to receive and resolve PwDs telecommunications complaints via interactive video calls. It also provided mobile lines to PwDs with 50% off on the call and Internet packages.
El-Gamal indicated that NTRA complaint call center is resolving and following up on all users’ complaints nationwide if users were unable to resolve their complaints through the concerned MNO. NTRA has developed the center and doubled its capacity.
The meeting also delved into NTRA efforts to enhance the channels through which users can submit their complaints. NTRA can receive users’ complaints against telecom operators through the Call Center hotline (155). Other channels include NTRA official website, My NTRA mobile application, or through WhatsApp numbers and NTRA social media platforms.
Meanwhile, NTRA initiatives for PwDs and the elderly were highlighted during the meeting. It also referred to My NTRA mobile application launched by the Authority. It provides many useful and effective services to serve users, such as submitting complaints, inquiring about mobile numbers registered with the user’s national ID, and providing other services that facilitate users’ access to services digitally.
CRPC members recommended stepping up the efforts employed to improve the quality of telecommunications services. They also highlighted the significance of raising awareness among users of their rights and duties in dealing with telcos, increasing communication methods with users, introducing efforts made within the telecommunications sector to serve citizens, and increasing training for customer service representatives to help and meet users’ needs.
CRPC also recommended increasing citizens’ knowledge of Digital Egypt services, enhancing services provided to PwDs, and providing technological access that empowers PwDs to use telecommunications services, being an integral part of the society. It also requested providing new services on the My NTRA mobile application, using videos in sign language, to empower deaf and hard-of-hearing people to use the application’s services.
Furthermore, the ICT Minister had issued a decree to reconstitute NTRA CRPC headed by El-Gamal to include several prominent officials, experts with technological, legal, and media backgrounds, civil society representatives, and academic professors. The new CRPC included:
1. Vice President of Education, Scientific Research, and Telecommunications Committee of the Senate and member of the PwD Committee of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Randa Mostafa
2. Vice Chairman of Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) Ayman Fathy Abd EL Gany
3. Professor and Head of Communications Department at Cairo University Mohamad Khairy
4. Chairperson of Qualitative Union of Consumers’ Protection Association Soad El-Sayed Hassan El-Deeb
5. Editor-in-Chief at Al Shorouk Newspaper Emad El Deen Hassan Ahmed Mohamed
6. Journalist at Al Gomhuria Newspaper Ahmed Al-Attar
7. Deputy of Parliament ICT Committee Martha Mahrous
8. Lawyer and Member of Egypt-U.S. Business
Council (EUSBC) Girgis Abd El Shahid
9. Consulting Engineer Yehia Zaki
10. National Council for Persons with Disabilities-Secretariat- Aya Al Sharif
11. Market Governance Sector Head at NTRA Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim
12. Executive President of NTRA Information and Public Relations Department Hoda El-Deeb
It is worth noting that CRPC is a committee that focuses on providing recommendations and advice to NTRA Board of Directors to address the issues related to telecommunications service users’ rights. These issues include implementing regulatory frameworks guaranteeing free competition, reasonable prices, quality of provided service, and monopoly prevention. This is in addition to promoting PwDs rights, providing them with appropriate services, and reducing malpractices by raising users’ awareness of telecommunications services.
وزارة الاتصالات وتكنولوجيا المعلومات-مصر