The telecommunications sector has proliferated in recent years, especially in developing countries. However, little attention has been paid to consumer protection issues. As more people get connected to telecommunication networks and competition becomes increasingly fierce, it becomes essential to revamp institutions that ensure consumer protection in the telecommunication markets. This paper analyses the current status of institutions that protect consumers in the telecommunications sector in five African countries from the perspective of three pillars of sound institutional design. The findings indicate that while all cases analysed herein have some form of institution that upholds consumer protection, in most cases, such protection is limited to mobile communications. Furthermore, in most cases, there are only general sanction provisions that are either too weak to bind service providers or that leave overly discretionary powers to regulatory agencies, which can lead to corrupt practices, hence weakening consumer protection. This paper describes current affairs with regard to consumer protection in the telecom industry, identifies its weaknesses, and proposes areas of improvement to attain a healthier telecommunications sector.
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