In response to the recent devaluation of the Nigerian naira and the need to reflect prevailing market conditions, leading telecommunication firms MTN, 9mobile, Airtel, and Glo are working with the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to review their service prices. The telcos argue that a price review is essential for the sustainability of the industry and to accurately reflect the cost of production.
The Central Bank of Nigeria’s introduction of a new foreign exchange (FX) policy regime, aimed at bridging the gap between official and parallel exchange rates, has further emphasized the need for a price review. The removal of the rate cap on the naira at the official Investors and Exporters’ Window by the apex bank has prompted telecom operators to consider adjusting their prices.
Gbenga Adebayo, the president of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, highlighted the necessity of aligning prices with the cost of production. He emphasized that the industry is not immune to economic fluctuations, stating that when input costs rise, prices must follow suit to ensure sustainability and maintain service quality.
Discussions between telcos and regulators have been ongoing, with previous approval granted for price reviews under the last administration. However, the recent Forex regime has further underscored the urgency for an increase. Adebayo explained that the new FX policy, combined with other cost parameters mentioned in previous submissions, will provide the necessary information and basis to justify a review of telecom prices.
In 2022, telcos had already sought a 40% hike in the price of data, calls, and SMS due to the increased cost of operations. They proposed raising the floor price of calls from N6.4 to N8.95 and the price cap of SMS from N4 to N5.61. Now, with the removal of fuel subsidies and the rising costs of goods and services since the start of the new administration, telcos are once again pushing for a price increase.
Telecom experts have supported the need for a price review, noting that the industry must respond to price shocks to sustain business operations and continue investing in technological advancements. However, consumer advocates, including the president of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, argue that raising prices at this time would be insensitive, considering the recent removal of fuel subsidies and the potential upward review of electricity prices.
With over 223.34 million mobile subscriptions in Nigeria, any increase in telecom service prices is expected to impact the population significantly. As discussions between telecommunication firms and regulators continue, the industry faces the challenge of balancing sustainability with affordability for consumers.
Source: The Punch
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