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GAMBIA: OPERATORS CAN NOT BE FORCED TO CUT HIGH COSTS OF INTERNET AND DATA – MINISTER OF COMMUNICATION

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According to the minister of communication and digital economy, the high cost of internet and data is a worry for everyone in Gambia, but the government ‘cannot compel’ carriers to lower their costs.

GSM carriers in the Gambia have often been chastised for charging high costs for data and internet access, as well as for credit reductions and poor service.

Business Insider Africa classified the Gambia as the sixth most costly average mobile data consumption country in May 2022.

Yusupha Jobe, the director general of Pura, told The Standard in March that new monitoring equipment had been acquired to monitor and assess the service quality of operators as well as examine complaints about data and other concerns.

When Minister Ousman Bah came before MPs yesterday, numerous members expressed concern that data costs are higher than they should be and wanted answers on what the government is doing to reduce the cost.

The minister responded that the government has made efforts since his appointment to find cheaper data options for Gambians, which has resulted in major providers, Africell and Qcell, lowering their data costs.

“Africell now has a WhatsApp bundle promotion, which is based on engagement between my ministry and Africell.” “Now, D10 is 90 megabytes, D15 is 100 megabytes, D50 is 500 megabytes, and D100 is 1.5 gigabytes,” Minister Bah informed the Assembly.

He said that previous to these engagements, D10 could not receive a megabyte anywhere in the nation.

Similarly, the minister said that Qcell has provided an average discount of 37% on its data charges.

“With Qcell, 20 megabytes were reduced from D9 to D7.50; 150 megabytes were reduced from D58 to D30; 300 megabytes were reduced from D112 to D60; 1.5 gigabytes were reduced from D580 to D225; 5 gigabytes were reduced from D775 to D595; and 10 gigabytes were reduced from D1310 to D950,” Minister Bah continued.

He further stated that Comium’s cheap data prices are the result of a government deal with them to cut data costs prior to renewing their license. “Gamcel has not raised their tariff following our conversation and engagement.” It remains the same.”

When asked whether the government had any further measures to assure GSM carriers’ data pricing reductions, Minister Bah said, “This is a top priority for our ministry.” As a consequence of our involvement with Pura, they have recruited an independent consultant to do a market evaluation, which will provide us with parameters to guide us. GSM operators follow tariff rates, and the tariff rate that they use to charge has not been modified in more than 5 years.

So, at our level, we cannot compel them to cut their prices or the amount of charges they charge until there is a market evaluation, which is Pura’s job.”

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