• November 8, 2023

CSOs Speak Tough on Mobile Tariff Increment

CSOs Speak Tough on Mobile Tariff Increment
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By Donstance Koroma

Edmond Abu of Native Consortium SL, William Sao Lamin of Civil Society on Service Delivery and Abdulia Ben Foday, Director of Communication, National Telecommunication Authority (NaTCA) were on Monday 6 November on the Africa Young Voice Television’s popular breakfast show “Wake UP Sierra Leone” drawing daggers over the recent increment of mobile tariffs and its effects on the majority of consumers that are largely low income-earners.

 

According to Edmond Abu of the Native Consortium revealed that as a consortium they have put out a press release on Sunday 5th November explaining that as a result of the increase tariff of voice call to 70% and Data to 33% of 15, 000 old Leone for one GB increase including increase in the floor tariff.

The release further described the decision of the regulator and the parent ministry decision as disproportionate, inexcusable, expensive and not affordable while noting that Sierra Leone continues to battle with the highest telecommunication in the world with the slowest of service like an old wood lorry.

Edmond Abu argued that the issue of fuel and EDSA tariff increment should not be used as an excuse owing to the fact most of the Telecommunication Operators are using solar power in their towers .

 

According to Abu, eighty percent of telecommunication operators in Sierra Leone overhead cost are on fuel and as such the margin of increase is too much for the ordinary man to enjoy the services.

He accused the National Telecommunication Authority of killing competition in the telecommunication industry by insisting on floor price that all telecommunication company should adhere to.

He disclosed that initially, floor price was never in the laws regulating the telecommunication companies but was later included into the law to kill competition deliberately, recalling that before the advent of Qcell SL both Africell and Orange SL were selling between 30-40,000 old Leones for a GB .

 

When QCELL SL entered the telecommunication market, in the wisdom of QCELL SL management one GB was sold at 18,000 old Leones prompted Africell to start selling at 10,000 old Leones while QCELL SL decide to dropped their price on GB to 9,000 old Leones, those moment in the history of telecommunication in Sierra Leone was like a turning point that the floor price clause in the National Telecommunication Authority has prevented such competition that comes with huge benefit to the customers, said Edmond Abu.

 

From the Native Consortium angle, Edmond Abu argued that they do not have much issue over the increase tariff of voice calls and data services but the removal of the floor price can bring more benefit to subscribers.

Edmond Abu disclosed that QCELL SL wanted to go below the floor price but the current floor price imbedded in the regulation of the regulator has prevented such from happens.

 

William Sao Lamin, Civil Society on Service Delivery referred to the engagement by mobile regulator, Mobile Company Operators and the Ministry of Communications, Civic Education and Innovation that led to the current traffic increase as a win-win situation owing to the fact the world is not in its normal times. He reminded all and sundry that mobile companies have operated for six years without any increase in tariff.

 

Justifying the reasons for the demand for incensement, Sao Lamin stressed on the hundred percent increase in electricity tariff of EDSA, fuel for towers through mobile companies vehicles incurred hooping sum if multiply monthly and yearly, communication is expensive.

Abdulai Ben Foday, called the increments as a slit adjustment that he noted was proposed by telecommunication operators last year.

According to him, he referred to the increments as a cost adjustment was reasonable because everything has changed since the start of this year.

 

He reiterated that 2017 was the last tariff adjustment done in Sierra Leone, since things has remained like this before the proposed 120% for them to breakeven but he noted that with engagement with mobile operators it was agreed on 33% increase. He said floor price is part of the country law, international best practice and economic regulations.

 

He pointed out that mobile company operators are doing their best to make citizens get the best in telecommunication in the country citing that in 2017 there were minimum three hundred (300) towers across the country that he noted has grown to three thousand (3000) towers.

Ben Foday further that both Africell and Orange SL are currently testing their 5G launched of recent with plans to construct data centers estimated at twenty five million dollar in some identify districts in the country.

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