Mobile network operators in the country comprising MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile have all crashed their data prices by at least 33.3 per cent, New Telegraph has learnt. From the average cost of N1,000 for 1 Gigabyte (GB) of data in January this year, the cost of 1GB is now N666.6 on the average for a monthly subscription. Although the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, had, in a statement released yesterday, declared that there had been a 50 per cent crash based on a report he received from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), an independent check by this newspaper across the networks showed a 33.3 per cent reduction.
While there are cheaper packages, but with a limited period of use, an analysis of the monthly data packages of the telcos showed that MTN, Airtel and 9mobile’s N1,000 subscription offer subscribers 1.5GB of data, while Globacom offers 1.9 Gigabyte at the same cost with extra 1GB for night browsing. At this rate, the cost of 1GB MTN, Airtel, and 9mobile amounts to N666.6. This, however, is still slightly higher than the recommended price for 1GB of data by the United Nations Broadband Commission, which is proportionate to the income of the people.
The Commission defines internet affordability as ‘1 for 2’, that is, 1GB of mobile broadband costing no more than two per cent of the average monthly income. Based on the current N30,000 minimum wage in Nigeria, the cost of 1GB in the country should not be more than N600, according to the Broadband Commission.
Meanwhile, the minister, in a statement by his Technical Assistant (Information Technology), said the reduction in the cost of data was the result of his recent directives to NCC to put in place measures to significantly reduce the average cost of data. “The minister had inaugurated a committee that developed the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020- 2025) on 16th December, 2019.
The Plan was unveiled and launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on 19th March, 2020. One of the goals of the plan is to reduce the average cost of 1GB of data to a maximum of N390 by 2025. With the January 2020 baseline of N1,000 per GB, the maximum projected steady decrease for the end of each year was as follows: 2020 (N925), 2021 (N850), 2022 (N775), 2023 (N700), 2024 (N545) and 2025 (N390).
“In line with Pantami’s commitment to under promise and over deliver, the measures have caused the current cost of data to reduce significantly beyond the December 2020 projection of N925. Based on the report by NCC, the average cost of data as of November 2020 was N487.18, which amounts to N47.33 lower than the projected value,” the statement further read. According to the minister, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, through NCC, would continue to ensure that consumers enjoy a price regime that supports fairness and is friendly to consumers.
“Policies are in place to ensure that operators adopt competitive pricing that eschews unjustifiable margins. The general public may also wish to note that complaints about rapid data depletion are also being investigated,” he added.
National Chairman of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Mr. Deolu Ogunbanjo, said the cost of data has indeed reduced in the last few months and subscribers are happy about it.