Mobile increment (from Le 450 to Le 650) as was recently announced has seen subscribers annoyingly referred to country’s service providers -Africell and Airtel as slippery customers.
They say: “mobile operators the likes of Africell and Airtel trick with an oath acknowledging that they have been running at loss owing to increase of fuel, electricity and the foreign exchange rate, but think little of God who may have pictured them in unending years of terrible service deliveries.
It was in March 2017, on a Thursday, at the Bintumani hotel, that a meeting of mobile companies and specially selected civil society organizations was held by NATCOM (country’s telecommunications regulator), in which it was agreed that mobile tariff should be increased to an unbelievable 50% unjustly.
But minutes after the Bintumani meeting, that which saw the approval of request by mobile companies, internet service providers’ vis-à-vis tariff increase, the social media swiftly picked it up and debates were that ethical guarantors (civil society) may have sold Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans to ungodly mobile/service providers.
The slogan now jingled by almost all is that: “a dramatic cheat will never be seen in daytime; of course not, they come out after dark, up to no good?”
Findings are that even though Africell and Airtel claimed there have been no increments, calls per minute frequently exceed the official price then- Le 450.
That the new increment (Le 650) as has been effected owing to alleged extensive consultation with the general public and NATCOM speaks of a complete falsehood.
It is true the habitually increase of electricity, water, fuel, passport and recently top up card affects the poor, but supplements the well-off.
CSOs such as Accountability Now, Market Women Association, The Youth Parliament, Ataya Base Union, Native Think Thank, including fewer representatives from the provinces supported proposal put forward by mobile/internet service providers for an increase of tariff, but to the shock of one internet service provider- ON LIME SIERRA LEONE- whose position was contradictory of associate service providers.
His words, Foday Sankoh of ONLIME Sierra Leone are that: “ON LIME is not in support of any increase of tariff, rather want government provides a baseline subsidy on tax for service providers.”
In an attempt describing NATCOM’s position on the questioned tariff increment, a subscriber was spotted as saying: “when an executive has the authority and his subordinate has the responsibility…the subordinate in effect, then, is only a glorified clerk,” as he explains his frustration on TARIFF/TOP UP CARD increment by MOBILE COMPANIES.
That the dialogue conference, that which brought mobile/internet service providers and specially selected civil society organizations together, to showily discuss ‘increment’ as was requested by service providers, NATCOM, by reason of a resolution, endorses an increase in the price of tariff.
But as he unambiguously explains his institution’s position, Momoh Konte, Chairman NATCOM, understandably told the full to capacity Bintumani hall, his commission’s position saying: “NATCOM is but an arbitrator and we are here to listen to all the parties (consumers and service providers) and will then take a position.”
It could be recalled that the World Bank has said that Sierra Leone has the highest tariff on mobile phone in the region and has once asked government cause a reduction.
For this reason, World Bank therefore had supported the Liberalization of the gate way as was approved by Parliament and of course the landing of the fibre optic with the expectation that there will be an affordable tariff reduction.
Findings are that tariff increment, the world over, is determined by the fact that providers offer better services to the consumers instead of putting forward irrational excuses such as electricity, fuel and foreign exchange increment as was weakly emphasized by Airtel, Africell and other service providers present at the Bintumani conference.
However, and for the sake of people’s enlightenment, we here publish the European Commission’s (EC) Recommendation on tariff increase mentioned under Article 15, in order to identify operators with a significant market power in the latest rounds of market analyses: “there is a relevant risk of adverse effects arising from price distortion and that the setting of cost orientation obligation is but only appropriate for the purposes of promoting efficiency, sustainable competition and conferring the greatest benefits on the end-users,”
which no doubts hinge on better services than so-called reasons put forward by service providers.
And that because service providers don’t want to share infrastructure with colleagues to enable them reduce cost, they lay blames on increase of electricity, fuel and foreign exchange to unavoidably increase tariff even when services provided are completely inadequate.
It is presumed that the recent increment has angered many electorates and has therefore seen them vent out their anger at polls in not voting the APC come 2018.
It is revealed also that days after the Bintumani meeting, persons representing individual civil society organizations received money in cash than in cheque or in the name of the organizations they represent for the purpose of an ‘unexplained sensitization.