Earlier this week, two major telecommunications companies in Nigeria, MTN Nigeria and Airtel Nigeria, have increased prices for their internet data services by 10 per cent. Both entities confirmed the increase on their separate Twitter pages in response to customer inquiries.
According to media reports, in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 to 2025, the Federal Government seeks to ensure cheaper data services in the country. The government plans to achieve US$2.27 for 1Gb by 2023 and US$0.88 for 1Gb by 2025.
The recent hike in data services by MTN and Airtel has threatened government’s plan, although these targets have been met and surpassed.
However, the recent 10 per cent hike is still less than the 40 per cent increase in the cost of calls, SMS, and data initially proposed by telecommunication companies under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria.
In a letter to the Nigerian Communications Commission, the telecom companies said that there had been a 40 per cent increase in the cost of doing business in the nation, which necessitated the proposed increase in services.
“Given the state of the economy and the circa 40 per cent increase in the cost of doing business, we wish to request an interim administrative review of the mobile (voice) termination rate for voice; administrative data floor price, and cost of SMS as reflected in extant instruments,” the letter read.
In their responses, the NCC indicated that there was a need to follow certain processes before an increase could be implemented.
Commenting on the price increase, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said that with the increase in operating costs due to inflation and rising diesel, among others, there were more than 15 attempts to increase the price of telecommunication services within three years, which he voted against.
The minister explained, “Despite the contributions and achievements of the sector, we have been recording some challenges coming up from time to time that, if care is not taken these challenges could be a barrier to the development of this sector in the next few years to come. One of them is the issue of excessive taxation and multiple taxations in the sector.”