NCC:  Subscribers Laugh Last

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

When Hajia Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, announced last August of plans by the Federal government to begin the implementation of a five percent excise Tax on all data services and voice calls,  tele,communication service providers heaved a sigh of relief. They may have seen it as an opportunity to pass some of the cost of the cost of their production to subscribers.  

The opportunity came  after  the National Assembly had passed the Finance bill, which was said to have been signed into Law by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2020,  alongside the 7.5% Value Added Tax, VAT, on goods and services on all sectors of the economy.

Hajia Ahmed: Minister Of Finance, Budget And National Planning

Even without the National Communications Commission, NCC, under the close watch of Umar Garba Dambatta, a Professor, giving the nod to the telecommunication   providers, to start implementing the upward review of the cost of their data services and Voice calls, Airtel and MTN, have unilaterally gone ahead to implement the tariff adjustment without giving  prior notice to the subscribers.

 The two telecommunication giants had increased its data bundle  with  Airtel being the first to hit the ground running and quickly followed by MTNTake for instance ,  Airtel had increased its monthly data rates as follows: N1,000.00 that was initially  used  to obtain a monthly data bundle of 1.5 GB, was increased to N1,100.00 to do so, N1,2000.00 set for 2GB, monthly data, N1,500.00 for 3GB, monthly data, N2,200.00 for  4.5 GB,  data,  N2.500.00 for 6GB, monthly data, , N3,300.00 for 10 GB, monthly data bundle, N4,4400.00 for 11Gb, monthly data andN5,500 for 20GB. Thre was also slight tariff adjustments in other da plans.

MTN, which had taken  a cue from Airtel tariff adjustment on different data linkages, was said to have  increased  its monthly data plan of N100.00 to N1,100, to obtain a monthly data plan of 1.5GB, N1,200 for 2GB,monthly data,  N1,500 for 3GB ,monthly data,  N2,000.00, for 4.5 GB, data, and N2,500.00 for 6GB, data. The MTN telecommunication network provider was said to have also increased the Cost of purchasing a 20GB, monthly data bundle from N5,000.00  to N5,5000.00  and N6,000.00 for 25GB, data.

Subscribers, who may not have found this funny were said to have piled up pressure on the Leadership of NCC,   and using the Social Media, to air out their n views about the tariff adjustment, insisting that it must be reversed because of the hardship people are facing in the country.

Prf. Patami: Minister Of Communications And Digital Economy

Initially, NCC Authorities had tried to justify its recommendation to Isa Ibrahim Patami, minister of Communications and Digital economy, and who in turn had sought the approval of the Katsina state born Nigeria, President for an increase in data and voice calls, of the five percent exercise duty earlier announced, by  Hajia Ahmed, minister of Finance, Budget and National planning and . He got it and communicated the message to  NCC.The Presidential approval may have informed why the Commission had said that the increase in the cost of its monthly data, was intended ‘’to maintain a conducive environment for the service providers’’.

It had said that ‘’the consideration for the 10% approval for tariff adjustments for the different data linkages, and voice calls was in line with ‘’its mandate and other Regulations and Guidelines provided by the NCC Act’’.

Dambatta: Executive Vice Chairman, NCC

 Reuben Muoka, the Commission Director, Public Relations, may have justified the  implementation of the tariff adjustment for monthly data bundle and voice calls, approved by the Nigeria President on the recommendations of the Commission  to the fact that ‘‘it is within the provisions  of the existing price  floor  and price cap as determined by the industry’’.

According to him, ‘‘the decision was taken after a critical and realistic review and analysis of the operational environment and the current business climate in Nigeria, as it affects all sectors of the economy’’. He may have alluded to the high exchange rate of the naira to the dollar and other world major currencies.

Aware that the 2023, general elections is just around the corner and that the approved increase in the different monthly linkages  of data bundle and voice calls may count against the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, may have encouraged  Patami , the minister of Communication and Digital Economy, who have held wide Consultations on the data bundle and voice calls tariff adjustments to have a rethink onthe 10% increase in tariff for  monthly data bundle and voice calls and came to the conclusion that it was not necessary now .  

As a prelude to halting the implementation of the tariff increase by the telecommunication service providers, Patami, had said that  theBuhari Administration’s  priority is  ‘‘to protect  the citizenry  and ensure justice  to all stakeholders involved’’.

It was not surprising why he had said that ‘ ‘anything  that  will bring  hardship to Nigerians at this critical time where many states of the Federation are experiencing flooding and homes flooded would not be accepted’’, stressing that the President has given ‘’approval  for the suspension  of the proposed five percent excise duty ‘’.  

He noted that  ‘‘ much as  there is an increase  in the cost of production , the provision of telecommunication services is still very profitable in Nigeria, compared to other countries in the West and Central African sub-regions. He had declared that ‘‘it is not necessary   for subscribers to be subjected to a hike charges’’.

MTN Mast

This may have informed why  the NCC, at the instance of the minister, had on October 12, 2022,  directed  Airtel, MTN and other network providers  that have started implementing the new tariff  ‘’to reverse the  upward review adjustment’’. The telecommucation Companies may have known the implication of flouting the government’s order that they have reversed to the old tariff.

The Value News findings shows that  that with N1,0000.00, now , a subscriber can still  obtain the usual 1.5 GB, monthly data,  N1,200.00 for 2GB, data,  N1,500.00, for 3GB, data, , N2,00.00 for 4.5 GB,data, N2,500.00 ,for 6GB, monthly data bundle, N3,500.00 for 12,GB data, , N5,000.00 for 20 GB data and N6,000.00 for 25GB, data.

Airtell, which was said to have also rushed to adjust its tariff because of the government planned tariff upward review was said to have also reversed downwards that monthly data cost to the original price to avoid  playing into Prf Dambatta, Executive Chairman NCC, who will not hesitate to impose fine on it for flouting the government’s order.  

 The Telecommunications Regulatory agency may have tried to win the heart of the network subscribers and operators as it had said that they ‘’will continue to entrench very transparent processes and procedures for tariff determination in the nation’s telecommunication industry’’.

 The Commission had told stakeholders that ‘’it will continue to abide  by this  time-tested   process and international best  practice  to ensure  efficient  pricing  mechanism  for the country’s telecommunication s sector’’.

While the telecommunication Companies have reversed to the old monthly data plan cost, they were said to have opened a channel of Communications with the NCC and the ministry to reach an affordable tariff that could be paid by Nigerian subscribers in the months ahead.


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