Liberia Is the Fifth Country in the World with Expensive Mobile Data for Internet
MONROVIA – Liberia ranks among the top five countries in the world with the most expensive mobile data for internet, a report by Alliance for Affordable internet reveals.
The report on Mobile Broadband Pricing Data for Q2 2019 runs contrary to assertions by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) that Liberia has one of the cheapest prices for voice call and mobile data in the region, despite scraping off the once-famous ‘3-day free call’ which afforded Liberians to do voice calls for 72 hours for US$1.00. Mobile data was also US$1 for 1Gb.
However, new regulations by the LTA rolled out in September this year brought these quite affordable prices to an abrupt end. Being the sector regulator, the LTA introduced floor prices – a move that some experts say is unprecedented in the sector.
In accordance with the new pricing, voice packages were set at a floor price of 0.0156 cents on each call provided in packages to customers by their network. Data packages will now have a minimum floor price of 0.0218 per Megabyte (MB) of data provided to customers.
The LTA explained that the essence of the new floor price is to end “price war” between the only two GSM operators in the country, open up the market and ensure competition.
According to the LTA, the existence of fair competition in the telecommunications market is a necessary condition for sustainable economic development and enhanced social welfare of Liberians.
The LTA contended that telecommunication users in Liberia enjoy the lowest prices in West Africa but the low prices come with a high cost for the sustained growth and development of the state.
However, the report by Alliance for Affordable Internet, on the contrary, reveals that the country is the fifth in the world where browsing the internet is very expensive. According to the report which was also picked up by the BBC, the Democratic Republic of Congo has the most expensive mobile data for the internet, followed by the Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea Bissau and Liberia.
In October, the Senate Post & Telecom Committee’s recommended that a hold to be placed on the additional surcharge which is to be imposed by the LTA. The decision was based on a plea for their intervention by the CEO of Orange Liberia, Mr. Mamadou Coulibaly. According to Mr. Coulibaly, the surcharge would increase the already-increased GSM operators’ prices by two-folds.
The LTA in September succeeded in bringing an end of the long-running three-day unlimited calls for US$1 and very low prices for internet bundles. A new tariff of US$0.0156 per minute was introduced as the new floor price. This, in effect, limited voice calls from three days unlimited for US$1 to US$1 for 45 minutes on-net calls. Mobile internet data was adjusted from US$1 for 1 gigabyte to US$0.00218 per megabyte. Liberians, from all walks of life, criticized the adjustments, claiming that the government was being insensitive to their plights and the economic situation in the country.
However, as part of the new regulation which introduced the new tariffs, the LTA is to further impose additional charge of US$0.008 for each minute of voice call and US$0,0065 for each megabyte of data. These charges are expected to come into effect six months after the introduction of the new floor prices.