Nigeria’s Communication Minister, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, has ordered telecom operators to stop charges on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD). In In a Twitter reaction to public outcry against plans by MTN Nigeria to start charging N4 (four naira) for USSD service beginning from Monday, October 21, Pantami said the ministry was not aware of the sudden plan by MTN Nigeria to charge users for USSD transactions. But he assured that his ministry has directed the regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure a discontinuation of such plans by MTN and other operators.
The minister immediately earned the commendations of Nigerians online thanking him for his quick intervention; and for helping to protect consumers.
One Twitter user and social influencer, Dr. Joe Abah, @DrJoeAbah, tweeted: “I see that the proposed USSD charge has now been suspended. Well done, Honourable Minister @DrIsaPantami. Please use your good offices to encourage our @cenbank to start to show us some respect for a change. They’re supposed to be public servants. That is, SERVANTS OF THE PUBLIC!”
MTN had, early on Sunday, sent out text messages to its subscribers notifying them that beginning October 21; it would start charging for USSD to access banking services.
See the official statement by the ministry:
The attention of the Federal Ministry of Communications has been drawn to the viral text message allegedly sent by the Mobile Network Operator MTN Nigeria and other Mobile Operators notifying subscribers of a four naira (N4:00) charge per 20 seconds on USSD access to banking services from the 21st of October 2019.
The Office of the Honourable Minister of Communications Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is unaware of this development and has hereby directed the sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission ensures the operator suspends such plans until the Honourable Minister is fully and properly briefed.
Uwa Suleiman (Mrs)
Spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications
20th October 2019