The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has ordered the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to stop the automatic voicemail service on existing lines, according to Nigerian Tribune.
According to a statement released by Mrs Uwa Suleiman, the Spokesperson to the Minister, Pantami described the service as financial exploitation by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, as voicemails were not popularly used in the country.
“Voicemail is not a popular service among mobile phone users in Nigeria, coupled with the language challenge among rural dwellers, who mostly do not understand the language deployed by these networks”Extract of statement signed by Mrs Uwa Suleiman
Pantami instructed the NCC to immediately ensure that issues regarding automatic voicemails are addressed to allow subscribers the option of accessing the service at their discretion and not by default.
He added that the service was a subtle, ingenious methods of defrauding Nigerians and it was totally unacceptable that subscribers incur finance charges for a service they are compelled to use by default.
“It is apparent, that the recent clampdown on the exploitative activities of some Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, has beamed the searchlight on the sector properly, and some unpatriotic elements in the system are devising subtle, ingenious methods of defrauding Nigerians,”
Extract of statement signed by Mrs Uwa Suleiman
In a bid to resolve this, the Minister asked the regulatory body to end the automatic voicemails by providing telecom subscribers with an option of accessing the service via an activation code.
Over the last few months, Pantami has been sanitising the Nigerian telecom sector. From de-activating improperly registered sim cards to ordering the stop of bank USSD charges by telecoms.
Pantami’s recent directive to order the stop of automatic voicemail could save Nigerians money. At the moment, subscribers incur costs in seconds because they don’t cut the phone fast enough or they forget that the voicemail automatically activates after the tone.