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Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko
Phone networks like MTN were set to increase costs of services.
U-TURN

Nigeria’s telcoms regulator has reversed a decision to hike mobile data prices

By Yomi Kazeem

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has suspended its controversial plans to hike mobile data tariffs in the country. In a statement, NCC says the decision to suspend the data price hike “was taken after due consultation with industry stakeholders and the general complaints by consumers across the country.”

The new tariff plans, originally set to come into effect the next day, Dec. 1, would have seen telcos operating in the country forced to increase mobile data prices and made internet access costs more expensive amid a regression in Nigeria’s internet subscriber base.

The NCC defended its directive to increase tariffs as being driven by the need to “provide a level playing field for all operators in the industry.” For its part, the NCC claims lower data prices only benefited bigger telcos with smaller internet providers unable to operate profitably. But the proposed hike has been severely criticized. Local tech founders described the hike as a threat to the progress of the tech ecosystem— a bright spot in a country currently mired in its first recession in decades.

In a plenary session earlier today, Nigerian lawmakers passed a motion to halt the proposed hike with Bukola Saraki, Nigeria’s senate president, describing it as “unacceptable.”

Amid severe criticism, Adebayo Shittu, Nigeria’s minister of information and communications, says the the government was not “privy” to the telecoms regulator’s plans. Shittu says the government will “continue to protect the interest of Nigerians.”