Internet subscribers in Africa won’t mind monopoly in the telecommunication sector if it is their best chance at getting affordable data rates. High cost of data is a major impediment to easy internet access and any move in that direction should be discouraged.
Recently there was a raging debate about enforcing new floor prices for telecommunication services in some African countries including Nigeria. The implication of this is an increase in data rates for subscribers. In Zimbabwe, residents have taken to social media to express their displeasure at the current hike in data prices as a result of enforcement of new floor prices which took effect on the 9th of January 2017. Some have even accused the government of deliberately attempting to discourage the use of social media by hiking data prices.
In Nigeria, the reason for this move was attributed to creating opportunities for new entrants into the telecommunication business and preventing monopoly in the sector. In Zimbabwe, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) justifies the move as a way of maintaining a balance between service affordability and the viability of mobile operators.
Despite all these reasons, an average internet subscriber craves fast internet connection at affordable rates. It is safe to assume that service providers that offer cheaper rates do so because they can afford to, and they still make profits too. So other service providers can either step up their game or clear the way.
If only one telecommunication company can sufficiently meet the need of the people, then maybe monopoly is not such a bad idea after all. Africans need a fast internet connection, but we want it cheap as well.
Writer. Interested in EdTech and tech careers