The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Prof. Umar Danbatta on Thursday called for sustainability and improved telecommunications services for the elderly and People Living With Disabilities (PLWD).
Danbatta made the appeal in his opening remarks at the 92nd edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP) in Lagos.
The parliament had the theme, “Consumer Protection for People Living with Disabilities and the Elderly.”
The EVC said the PLWD and the elderly, whom he referred to as senior citizens, were an important segment of the population that needed to be provided for.
He said this segment of the population should be provided telecommunications services and sustainability irrespective of the locations of such persons.
According to him, telecommunications services must be inclusive and should leverage technology to speed up the process, and integrating such persons should be priority.
“No one in the society should be disenfranchised when it comes to access to affordable telecommunications services and sustainability of those services.
“We have put in place measures to ensure that those services are available everywhere and for all persons irrespective of their locations.
“The other one is to ensure affordable cost of those services because the society is so dynamic and services must care first with our growing population, especially the PLWD and the elderly who have given a major part of their lives in serving the country,” he said.
According to him, it is important at this stage to recognise people with disabilities and the senior citizens and ensure that the interest of this category of people in the society is represented at this important event.
He appreciated the department of Public Affairs of NCC for the programme because it would throw up ideas to make senior citizens and PLWDs enjoy telecommunications services.
The Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, Mr Alkasim Umar, said in his welcome address that that the gathering was to discuss issues that affected Nigerian consumers.
Umar, who was represented by Mr Banji Ojo, said the the programme also aimed at charting a way forward to direct the affairs of consumers, especially physically challenged Nigerians.
He said the programme would create awareness and ensure no one was left behind.
In his keynote address, the Director, Spectrum and Industry Service, Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), Mr Kamal Tamawa, highlighted barriers to be addressed to achieve inclusiveness of the PLWD and the elderly.
Some of them, he said, were awareness and availability of products and services, affordability of products and services for persons with disabilities and affordable devices designed by technology companies.
He also said literacy and skills were needed to maximise the potential of mobile devices as an assistive technology.
Meanwhile, the panelists concluded that collaboration among telcos would help achieve inclusiveness, and provide affordable bundle for specific group of people, among other things, to achieve the desired result.