Since 1902

CCK has been performing below expectations

By APOLLO MBOYA

The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) is the regulatory authority for the communications sector in Kenya. Established in 1999 by the Kenya Communications Act (KCA) No. 2 of 1998, CCK’s initial mandate was regulation of the telecommunications and postal/courier sub-sectors, and the management of Kenya’s radiofrequency spectrum.

In recognition of the rapid changes and developments in technology which have blurred the traditional distinctions between telecommunications, Information Technology (IT) and broadcasting, the Government in January 2009 enacted the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act 2009. 

This statute enhanced the regulatory scope and jurisdiction of CCK, and effectively transformed it to a converged regulator. CCK is now responsible for facilitating the development of the information and communications sectors (including broadcasting, multimedia, telecommunications and postal services) and electronic commerce.

Mandate

This responsibility entails licensing all systems and services in the communications industry, including telecommunications, postal/courier and broadcasting; managing the country’s frequency spectrum and numbering resources, facilitating the development of e-commerce, approving communications equipment meant for use in Kenya, protecting consumer rights within the communications environment, managing competition in the sector to ensure a level playing ground for all players, regulating retail and wholesale tariffs for communications services, managing the Universal Access Fund, monitoring the activities of licensees to enforce compliance with the licence terms and conditions as well as the law.

The CCK has been woeful with regard to two aspects of their mandate- protecting consumer rights and monitoring the activities of licensees to enforce compliance.

By CCK’s own admission in their Quality of Service Report, all the four mobile operators in the country have consistently failed to meet their compliance target for eight key performance indicators (KPIs) of completed calls, dropped calls rate, call set up time, call set up success rate, call block rate, handover success rate, speech quality and the required signal strength.

Talk to any mobile phone service subscriber and they will tell you of the numerous dropped calls they have to endure or that they cannot reach someone, or that a caller is only faintly audible. Needless to say, this is frustrating, especially when the message being relayed is urgent.  Dropped calls along with congestion are the two most important consumer problems that affect quality of the service offered by mobile operators.

Mobile phone companies operate under licences issued by the CCK. One of the mandates of the CCK is to make sure that the mobile phone companies do what their licences say they must do.

Despite being clothed with an array of punitive administrative and legal measures under the law to address consumer grievances, CCK has instead concentrated only on the issues of digital migration, broadcasting licences and switching off of unregistered sim cards to combat phone-related crimes without much success.

CCK has also licensed domains that are hawking documents required by law to be prepared by professionals, thereby exposing consumers to unscrupulous quacks.

On more than one occasion, I have brought to the attention of the CCK, licensed domain names purporting to sell documents required by the Advocates Act to be prepared by advocates and I believe the same has been the case with other professionals.

Section 34 of the Advocates Act prohibits unqualified person from, either directly or indirectly, taking instructions or preparing any document or instrument relating to the conveyancing of property; the formation of any limited liability company, whether private or public; an agreement of partnership or the dissolution thereof; filing or opposing a grant of probate or letters of administration; or for which a fee is prescribed by any order made by the Chief Justice relating to any other legal proceedings.

Such unqualified persons are also prohibited from accepting or receiving, directly or indirectly, any fee, gain or reward for the taking of any such instruction or for the drawing or preparation of any such document or instrument.

Article 46 of the Constitution of Kenya grants consumers the right to goods and services of reasonable quality; to the information necessary for them to gain full benefit from goods and services; to the protection of their health, safety, and economic interests; and to compensation for loss or injury arising from defects in goods or services.

Unfair

This applies to goods and services offered by public entities or private persons.

In addition to the provisions contained in the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act 2009, the Consumer Protection Act 2012, provides for the protection of the consumer and prevention of unfair trade practices in consumer transactions.

The CCK has been taking the consumers for granted and it is high time those responsible are held to account for this flagrant disregard of their mandate and failure to enforce the constitutional and statutory provisions relevant in this regard.

The values and principles of public service include among others responsive, prompt, effective, impartial and equitable provision of services which the CCK has miserably failed to live up to.

The writer is Secretary/CEO of the Law Society of Kenya

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