Article title: Institutions and consumers: Assertion of ordinary consumer interest in the Nigerian digital mobile telecommunications market

Journal title: Telecommunications Policy


  •  Pervasive violation of consumer interest persist due to laxity in rules enforcement.
  • There is no intervention to make mobile service affordable for ordinary consumer.
  • Ranking investment over affordability results in high transaction cost for consumer.
  • The Commission is not consumer focused; she is hampered by conflict of interest.


This study on evaluation of the affirmation of ordinary consumer interest in the digital mobile telecommunications market in Nigeria situates within the broader perspective of the public interest and in the context of policy failure (what happens after adopting policy?). It focuses on aspects of compliance, monitoring, and enforcement of policy objective relating to ordinary consumer interest, areas that receive inadequate attention in policy literature.

The study is conducted using the new institutional economics framework. It adapts and extends the Saleth and Dinar (1999) institution decomposition model to deconstruct the mobile institution into four major components: policy, law, administration and enforcement for analytical purposes. Using document analysis, supplemented by semi-structured interviews, the study provides insights into how the regulatory framework engages with the ordinary consumer and the implications this has for the delivery of the policy objective of protecting ordinary consumer interest.

The main findings reveal that (1) due to weak institutional structures, the regulator and mobile service providers do not hold ordinary consumer’s interest at levels consistent with policy and law (2) there is no special intervention to make basic mobile services accessible and affordable for low-income ordinary consumers and (3) the pervasive violation of consumer interest persists due to laxity in enforcement of existing rules.

The public interest in telecommunications policy has so far benefitted mobile companies in Nigeria rather than ordinary consumers. The existing policy failure, as discussed in this case study, can provide inspiration for rethinking the place of the ordinary consumer.


Telecommunications policy failure
New institution economics
Institution decomposition