Telcos mull different tariffs for calls, data in states

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Nigerians may soon be paying different prices in different states for calls, data, SMS, and other telecommunication services, telecommunication firms have said.

According to the telcos, this measure is to mitigate against multiple taxation and business environments across different states.

They stated that it was no longer appropriate for Nigeria to continue to have one national tariff since the cost of providing service across the states was different.

The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, disclosed this in Lagos during his goodwill address at ‘The Nigeria eGovernment Summit 2023’ themed, ‘eGovernment: Pathway to a prosperous nation,’ on Thursday.

He said, “We have been talking about multiple taxation for many years. It may not be appropriate to continue to have one national tariff because if the cost of providing services in one region is high, services in that region should reflect the cost of service provision.

“If you have a state that has introduced 50 different taxes for the operator, the telcos need to pass it on to the subscribers there. Otherwise, we would remain on this issue for many years to come.”

Expanding on the issue further on the sidelines of the event, the Chairman of the umbrella association for telcos revealed that the Nigerian Communications Commission is aware of this new demand.

He stressed that it is the way forward for the telcos.

Adebayo said, “We are providing the NCC with data to back up this demand, but it is a direction that we must go. It is the only way to mitigate against the multiplicity of taxes that exist because in some cases cost of rolling out services is more expensive.”

He said that the current pricing regime for telecom service was unfair to states that provided a bright and friendly business environment.

According to him, “It will be unfair on states that provide a bright friendly business environment to pay as much as states that have high hostility against service providers. And we believe that the time has come. It is not done anywhere in the world.

“Across different geographical regions, tariff varies. If you leave Lagos for Benin for instance, you will pay a different tariff. It is the same telephone service, but it is because regulations and rules in these regions differ. This is why end-user rates differ. So, we are saying that the time for a national tariff is gone. Today’s reality needs a new approach.”

When implemented, this move will ensure that tariffs for telecom services across Nigeria will vary, making the price of calls higher or cheaper depending on location.

Adebayo noted that this move was dependent on the NCC’s approval and would be implemented if and when it is given the nod.

The telecom association chairman noted that the industry (telecoms) was expected to meet with the new Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, in the next couple of days to discuss his agenda.