Nigeria loses about N60 billion annually to call masking, a process where international calls are terminated as local calls, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The NCC said call masking has caused a serious challenge to the telecom industry but it also noted that the Commission has proferred solutions to the problem.
Prof Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, dropped the hint on Thursday at the 86th Edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP), entitled: ‘Overcoming Challenges of Call Masking/Refiling: Task Ahead for the Telecom Industry,’ on Thursday in Abuja.
Danbatta, who spoke through the Executive Commissioner Stakeholders management, Sunday Dare, noted that globally $54-$60 is lost to call masking but added that the Commission is taking proactive measures to curb the menace.
‘We don’t have the exact figures for Nigeria but globally $54-$60 is lost to call masking. This shows that it is a global menace which is not specific to Nigeria and it is possible because of innovative technology that is available,’ he said.
‘We talk about the VIOP which is Voice Over Internet Protocol, we talk about the OTT; Over The Top platforms where you do WhatsApp and all other video calls. These are innovations and technologies that allow for some of this to happen.
‘But we are happy to say for the last eight months, the NCC took very proactive measures, through investigations, we worked with our task force to have been able to reduce the incidence of sim boxing in this country by 34%.
‘When you look at the roadmap so far, 2016, it started, in 2017, we started investigations. We moved from reducing it to 24% to 34%. I think the most critical point is; we have tried to look for a technological solution to solve what is a slight technical problem.
‘As I speak, we have found a solution after the proof of concept. That solution has been tried in Lagos South West and about nine people have been arrested in the basement of a house and a few cars in which you have the boxes in their booths.
‘We have tried that concept, it is working and we hope to launch it in January. If it is launched in January; I can assure Nigerians that before the end of 2019, we would have had 80% reduction in call masking,’ he explained.
The EVC then called on the public not to hesitate to report cases of call masking to NCC, promising that appropriate measures would be taken against such persons.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Director Consumer Affairs Bureau, Mrs. Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, stated that the forum allows for face to face encounter with the public and Stakeholders in the telecom industry and the theme is aimed at ensuring national security and a level playing ground for all telecom licensees.