Sequel to COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria, industry stakeholders has tasked the telecommunications companies (telcos) in the country on need to slash tariffs on calls and data.
This, according to them, has become necessary following the Federal Government’s Sit-At-Home policy. They posited that Mobile Network Operators in Nigeria ought to reduce calls and data tariffs just as it’s currently done in other country experiencing the pandemic impact.
Addressing the issue, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami has also called out to the telecommunications service providers to subsidy and relax calls and data for Nigerians.
He made the call on Tuesday morning, on his Twitter page, Pantami said: “As earlier conveyed, as the Minister of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in charge of Policy of the Telecom Sector as in NCA, 2003, Part 1, I ‘urge’ Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), MTN, Glo, Airtel Nigeria, 9mobile, etc to ensure they further subsidy and relax calls/data tariffs for citizens in this critical time.”
According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria has over 174 million internet users, it was against this backdrop that the minister directed the NCC, the telecom regulators, to immediately work hand-in-hand with the telecoms operators and ensure a downward review of the price of data in Nigeria.
Similarly, the Association of Telephone, Cable TV and Internet Subscribers (ATCIS) has said in the light of the current disruption triggered by coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), it will be laudable if telcos can put their subscribers into consideration this time.
The masses consumer advocacy body stressed that now that most companies have resorted to remote operations and people are dealing with movement restrictions, everyone is left with voice calls, small messaging service (SMS) and data services to keep up with daily business trends and social realities.
In a statement signed by Prince Sina Bilesanmi, National President of ATCIS, urged the operators to be patriotic and not exploit the disruption caused by the pandemic as an opportunity to rake in easy money.
He said, “With self-isolation, and with federal government directive that many institutions be closed as well as curfew in some states to ensure that the spread of the virus is curtailed, this will naturally lead to change in consumer behavior. These changes are reflected in the uptake in the usage of collaborative tools to communicate, to do business and work from home as well as e-learning starting from primary, secondary to tertiary institutions.
“However, the situation at hand is a very delicate one and the only way we can have a breakthrough is by prioritising patriotism above personal gains and gratifications. Everyone is caught almost unprepared by COVID-19, therefore forcing us to abandon our places of works and start working from home.
“We cannot do this unless we have access to telecommunications services for voice and data. This may appear a good time for our mobile network operators (MNOs) to rake in more money as rate of spending on voice and data multiplies, it should, however, not be seen in this manner.
“Our telecoms service providers, especially, MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9Mobile, and others should see this time as an opportunity for them to further exhibit their value as responsible corporate citizens by slashing tariffs on calls and data bundles. Good name is better than riches some times and now is just one of such times.”
In view of this, among many others, a particular Nigerian subscriber, Godwin Solomon, on Twitter, said: “Dear network providers show a sense of empathy to Nigerians at this time by cutting data prices.”
Another subscriber, @DrOlufunmilayo, wrote: “I heard MTN South Africa and DSTV South Africa have cut data prices and subscription charges for South Africans. These people make far monet in Nigeria than South Africa. Yet they have not cut data prices for Nigerians. This is not fair.”