Senate Grills NCC, Telecom Operator Over Data Price Hike

The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) Tuesday said that it intervened with an interim price floor for data services to avert a looming price war in the telecommunications sector.

The explanation of the NCC is coming even as the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, asked Nigerians to face reality.

The regulatory commission said that it feared that the price war could eventually lead to a monopoly in the telecom industry that would force small operators to shut down.

It said that monopoly in the telecom sector could also push the country back to the days of NITEL to the detriment of small operators in the sector.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Professor Umar Dambatta stated this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Communications.

The committee was mandated to investigate the proposed hike in the price of data tariff said to have been ordered by the NCC.

Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Solomon Adeola, who presided, noted that there was a public outcry over the proposed data price increase.

Adeola said that Nigerians were united in their opposition that the proposed increase in the price of data should be stopped.

He said that the position of Nigerians was that the idea of hike in data price was ill- advised especially with the biting economic situation in the country.

Professor Dambatta told the committee that the intervention of the NCC was not designed to undermine the consumers.

He noted that if cheap prices were introduced, they may end up undermining the telecom service operators.

He said that if the situation arose where the operators could no longer cope, the consequences could be better imagined.

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Senate grills NCC, telecom operator over data price hike

We Never Ordered Operators To Raise Data Prices – FG

Nigeria’s Minister of Communication, Mr Adebayo Shittu, has disclosed that the Federal Government never gave any directive to telecommunications operators in the country to increase prices of data from Thursday, December 1, 2016 as claimed.

Since the beginning of this week, Nigerians have continued to kick against messages sent to them via text messages by telecoms operators, informing them that from tomorrow, prices of data would go up and in some cases, by 100 percent

Speaking on Wednesday on RayPower FM’s Fact File programme, which was monitored in Lagos by Business Post, the Minister said he was never consulted before the announcement was made. He stressed that the government did not authorise the operators to raise the tariffs.

However, he assured Nigerians that the government would look into the matter and continue to protect their interests.
“I can tell you that I was never a party to it (data tariff hike). Government never gave any such instruction. This government believes in democratic process and we would continue to protect the interest of Nigerians. I can assure you we would do that (protect interest of Nigerians),” he said on the radio programme.

Also on the issue of subscribers still getting unsolicited messages from operators, Mr Shittu promised to take steps to stop the menace.

He lamented that he also gets such messages from his operator. “I am also a victim of unsolicited messages from operators, but I promise government will take pragmatic steps to stop this,” the Minister said.

Data Rate Hike: Time To Call President Buhari To Order – By Adekoya Boladale

The Yorubas have a saying: ‘ agilinti ti nse ginniginni, iku apaa, ambelente opolo to fi ojojumo gbe ara re sanle’ – a cameleon that threads with caution dies, how much more the toad that hops around with much energy.

The recent report on the move by the Nigerian Communications Company (NCC) acting on the order from the Federal Government to compel Telecommunication companies to increase the rate they charge for data subscription is the latest dish of agony in the oven of Buhari led Presidency. There is no gainsaying the fact that what we currently have as a democratic government is merely a revised edition of the inglorious military rule. The cardinal points that differentiate dictatorship from democratic governance have since left the corridors of Aso Rock taking with it the keys to the room of rule of law, human dignity, lawfulness, and morality. Nepotism, totalitarianism and fascism now reign supreme.

The alleged excuse that Nigeria has the lowest data rate in Africa as reason for the government backed coup against the masses is not only fallacious but nonsensical, irrational, illogical and outright wickedness.

For the record, 1GB(Gigabyte) in Tanzania cost just $0.9, in Egypt is it $2.80,  in Mozambique it is $2.9, in Uganda is it $3.60, in Ghana it is $3.90, in Guinea it is $4.00, in Rwanda it is $4.00, in Sudan it is $4.30, in Tunisia it is $4.80 while Nigeria presently operates at $5.00. In Russia $3 will get you an unlimited data service, Sri Lanka $10 will get you same. In Malaysia $11 gives you 3GB of data while in Indonesia $18 gives you an unlimited access to data service. In France 50GB cost around $25, in United Kingdom £17will get you unlimited access to data service, in India it is $2.80 to 1GB.

Taking comparison as the basis for this argument, minimum wage per month in Egypt is $174, Gabon pays $155, in Guinea is it $62, WAR RAVAGED Sudan pays $70, Tunisia pays $220 while Nigeria pays $38. Russia pays €100per month, Sri Lanka is $70.75, and Malaysia pays around $205, in Indonesia it is between $82 and $332. In France is it €1,466 in India it is $190.

In spite of what we currently view as the cheap cost of data service, a report by PwC stated that only 43% of the world population can afford 500 megabytes of data per month. According to Strategy and Connecting the World report in May 2016, Nigeria is expected to reduce the cost of its data service by 97% as the current rate is not in tandem with the gross monthly income of the country.

The upward review of the data price by over 300% in the case of current rate by Globacom Telecommunications is not only ill conceived but an economic harakiri. Studies have shown that when there is an unceremonious increase in the price of non-consummable goods, there is bound to be a sharp decline in demand. With the telecommunication companies contributing a whopping 1.8 trillion naira which represents a total of 10% to the Gross Domestic Product according to the  National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)  the revenue drive of the industry which is mobile data is expected to fall drastically now.

The power of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as a regulatory agency in a free market economy is to drive competition, low prices, encourage innovation and most importantly, protect the consumer. According to Ifeanyi Uddin (2016), ‘’the NCC has just shredded its credentials as a regulator’’.

For those who are quick to absolve the President of the new draconian regulation against the masses and seeing it as a supposed overzealousness of his appointees, such class of individuals should be enlightened that over 15 million Nigerians did not vote for the Dambazzaus, the Abba Kyaris, the Shittus and their likes. Nigerians defiled all odds to vote Buhari into office, trusting him not only to lead right but make decisions that will benefit the masses and be bold enough to accept responsibilities. We have had enough of bulk passing from this government.

You blame aides for padded budget, blame the previous government for recession, blame aides for speech plagiarism, blame politicians for Niger Delta and terrorism, blame militants for epileptic power supply, blame local bureau d’ change Mallam for high exchange rate, blame intolerance(nee blasphemy) for mindless killings, blame citizens for eating too much hence the high price of foods. One is then forced to ask if you are truly in charge of your ‘change’ government.

Maybe President Buhari does not understand the importance of citizens having easy access to internet data. Apart from the fact that it drives innovation, connect and help build a generation of more enlightened people while aiding research, it has effectively kept the masses at bay as they now find it more convenient to vent their anger and frustration against the government online rather than take to the street. If this plug is removed then it is only a matter of time before anarchy reigns supreme.

One of the numerous reasons that led to the fall of Gaddafi wasn’t because his government was less beneficial to the masses rather because his administration lost touch with the citizens and even for Gaddafi, he fell!

Adekoya Boladale is based in Lagos, Nigeria. He is a public affairs analyst and political commentator. His contributions have been featured on BBC, The Africa Report (Paris), The Star (South Africa), Ouestaf (Senegal), Islam Channel (UK), Punch, Guardian, Vanguard Newspapers (Lagos) amongst many others.

Boladale is on Twitter @adekoyabee