Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has kicked against the recent move by telecom operators in the country to increase the prices of voice and data services.
The hike, which is a 10% tariff increase, has received criticism from users and the NCC which originally gave it provisional approval, has officially ordered all operators to reverse it, claiming that members of its board did not give their final approval.
“…Furthermore, even though the tariff adjustment was proposed and provisionally approved by the management, pending the final approval of the board of the commission, in the end, it did not have the approval of the board of the commission. As a result, it is reversed,” a statement from the NCC reads.
According to the NCC, the decision to reverse its initial approval was made “after a critical and realistic review of the operational environment and the current business climate in Nigeria.”
Telecom providers have already started implementing the tariff increase on their various networks with Airtel and MTN users notably affected by the increase without prior notice. Both networks suddenly increased their 1GB of data from 1,000 naira to 1,100 naira and maintained the 10% increase across all plans.
According to the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), data prices in Nigeria is capped at a relatively affordable rate with 1GB of mobile data costing the average Nigerian 1.66% of their monthly salary. However, this number is threatened by the hiking of prices and in turn affects the affordability. The regulatory boards have this in mind, and therefore forced telecom providers to reverse the hike.
“The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has maintained that his priority is to protect the citizens and ensure justice for all stakeholders involved. As such, anything that will bring more hardship at this critical time will not be accepted,” the statement read.
“This was also why he obtained the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the suspension of the proposed 5 per cent excise duty, to maintain a conducive enabling environment for the telecom operators. Much as there is an increase in the cost of production, the provision of telecom services is still very profitable and it is necessary that the subscribers are not subjected to a hike in charges.”
The unfavorable state of the country has no doubt affected every sector of which telcos are included. The hike is a move by these operators to cope in a time of hardship in the country. The NCC has promised to undergo an industry-wide consultation to aid them determine the best possible rates for all parties.