One of them read: “Dear customer, please be informed that from 1st Dec, some data tariffs will be increased to reflect the new rates set by the NCC to operators. Thank you.”
Following the development, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) called on the Federal Government not to increase the cost of data to avoid further pressure on mobile telephone users.
Bobboi Kaigama, the President of the congress made the call in a statement in Lagos.
Kaigama said that the decision of government to jerk up the cost of data could increase insecurity, adding that “it is unacceptable’’.
Kaigama said that the increase in rate would further frustrate the people who were already burdened by high cost of goods and services.
“We feel worried about the move because data is one of the cheapest ways to empower the teaming youth. This move if allowed will make it unaffordable. This is insensitive on the part of the parties involved,” the TUC President said.
He further said that government should increase awareness for citizens’ participation in Information Communication Technology (ICT) rather than dampen their spirit to embrace the technology.
According to him, the decision if implemented will obstruct the drive to increase youth’s participation in ICT.
“What then will be the benefit of the policy to the self employed who depend on data for their businesses?. Cheap internet data is a vehicle to economic development. It is very unfortunate and inhuman to come up with such idea at a period of recession,” he said.
Kaigama said that any call for increase in prices of goods and services at the moment was uncalled for.
He therefore urged the government to create policies that would encourage investment and stimulate growth and boost businesses instead.
Some ICT stakeholders have expressed mixed reaction to the proposed increase.
Olusola Teniola, the President, Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) said that with the increase, other telecom companies would jerk up their prices, which would adversely affect subscribers.
He said that operators would also increase the cost of megabytes, which consumers could not afford at this time of economic recession.
“So what we are saying at ATCON is that no taxes should be applied in this industry and if there any taxes, it should also include other sectors. Already, the cost of data will go up in December and subscribers will not be getting as much data as they paid for,’’ he said.
Edwin Okolo, a computer scientist said that the increase in the cost of data “is uncalled for’’, adding that there should be other avenues for government to make money.
“What we are saying is that we want every Nigerian to be linked with the internet and you are planning to increase the cost of data, so it is no longer for the poor,’’ he said.
However, Adede Williams, the National President of Telecommunications Professionals of Nigeria sought the understanding of subscribers in the proposed increase.
Williams said that some stakeholders in the telecom sector were soliciting the understanding of the subscribers in the increase.
“We the stakeholders are appealing to the subscriber to have a little understanding for to have effective service delivery. If you check out the tariff, it is just a slight difference from what we use to have, so that is the true position of things now. Some of the subscribers have been informed before now of the tariff increase. I know it is not easy but it is just because of the trend of what is happening in the country,’’ he said.