Living in Nigeria has become very expensive. There are records of inflation in the country running up to 20.5%. This makes it difficult for businesses to thrive. Moreso, telecom companies are no exception to this as the high prices for their internet data services are due to the state of the economy and the increasing cost of doing business.
Ever so often, Nigerians complain about the alarming data prices and fluctuating network connections in the country which hinder many from accessing basic Internet services and social media platforms. Thus, the experience of working remotely for many is unpleasant.
How much internet data do remote workers consume?
On average, a remote worker in Nigeria consumes between 20-50 gigabytes (GB) worth of data every month to perform essential tasks on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, websites, LinkedIn pages and more.
Such tasks include ideation and research, content creation, virtual meetings, photography or even graphic design and lots more.
The new reality
The increase in data prices has affected the way people purchase, use and manage their data subscriptions.
Averagely, data plans for 20 gigabytes (GB) for Airtel went for ₦5000 but the same offer now goes for ₦5500. MTN as well as an increment of 10% on all its data prices.
The sudden increase has stirred up reactions from the public on social media. Many concerned persons have voiced out their frustrations to network providers enquiring about the unexpected change and increase in data prices.
Ireoluwa David is a budding UI/UX designer who works remotely for companies in Nigeria. She has worked with a good data budget for a long time which serves her well in meeting up with deadlines, designs and other courses for her professional line. Not until late September and early October that she began to notice an increase in data prices. To her, she was paying more for the same services she enjoyed less.
“I was used to spending ₦15000 for my monthly data plan and it did serve me well throughout the month. I was able to work without hiccups because my telecommunications provider gave me access to high-speed internet for an affordable rate. I could easily run my services virtually, and also, learn on my course because as a UI/UX designer, you need to learn daily”, she told CRESTHUB.
“I noticed the increase at first in late September and I thought I was the one at fault for choosing a higher plan for a different amount. It felt like I was wrong but seeing the same plan in October for that amount, I knew it was not a joke. Data now has become very expensive”, she added.
IreOluwa said that as a result of the increment in data prices, she has had to cut down savings for other needs to comfortably fit into the data plans she needs.
“It has become rough now. I have to sacrifice a lot for my data plan and it isn’t easy for a remote worker living in Nigeria. This increase in prices is not the best for me or any remote worker in this country”.
Just like Ireoluwa, many young Nigerians are annoyed at the unexpected increase in data prices.
The results of this increase can be traced back to inflation and the price of the naira downward against the dollar in the parallel market despite Nigeria being ranked among the countries with relatively affordable data according to the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI).
The government’s inclusion
The Nigerian government implemented 2020 a 7.5% value-added tax on calls and data services. Looking back, this is seen as a contributing factor to the recent surge in telecom service providers.
Eunice Jeremiah, a content writer and social media manager, told CRESTHUB that government regulations are a big contributing factor to this. She believes that the tax system affected the increase.
“It may seem inconsiderate given how difficult economic times are in Nigeria, but these providers cannot be blamed based on the value of the naira to the dollar. The payment of taxes by these providers cannot be ignored by the government, and they are also increasing their services. Because everyone strives to make profits for their business,” she said.
Contributing to this, Gideon Yakubu, a software developer said that the government is to some extent partly to blame for the increased data prices due to little regard for regulations.
“The increase in data is unacceptable. Although I am saddened by the news, this is Nigeria and as a result of the attention to regulations, service providers are now doing what they like.
“The entire country’s economy lacks certain strengths and structures, so all of these show more indications of rising inflation in the country,” he said.
Although the pressure was high regarding regulations regarding the tariff increase in voice and data services, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) rejected the increase and directed telecom service providers to reverse the unilateral price hike because its board of directors had not approved it.
A statement dated October 12 from the NCC reads: “Despite a tariff adjustment being proposed and provisionally approved by the management, pending final approval from the board of the commission, in the end, did not receive approval. As a result, it is reversed”.
According to the NCC, the reversal was made after a critical and factual review and analysis of the current operating environment and business climate in Nigeria. This means that the regulator aims to mitigate the effects of the previous hike on data plans, as it aims to “protect the citizen” and “ensure fairness to all relevant stakeholders” and as such, anything that will incite more hardship at this critical time in the country will not be accepted.
There is still a long way to go for the telecom industry in Nigeria as it continuously faces many challenges. As private companies such as MTN and Airtel continue to grow and develop across the country, internet users must be taken into consideration as they contribute partly to the nation’s economy.
Thus, an increase in data tariffs will result in a tighter economy and a decrease in demand because many users are relying on network providers to address this issue and provide them with their money’s worth.