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Juba residents worried as telecom tariffs set to double

NCA's Napoleon Adok. (Photo: Radio Tamazuj)

NCA’s Napoleon Adok (PHOTO/Radio Tamuzaj)

Amid runaway inflation and the local currency depreciating against the U.S Dollar (USD), Juba residents have expressed worry after the National Communication Authority (NCA) last week announced that telecommunications tariffs will double.

The director general of the National Communication Authority (NCA), Napoleon Adok Gai,  last week said the tariff rate of 1 USD for Mobile  Network Operators (MNO) will be adjusted to the current bank base rate of 600 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) from the previous 300 SSP, a 100 percent increment.

“Our attempts to control the current exchange rate at SSP 300 to the dollar were unsustainable to the Mobile Network Operations because we are demanding them to provide quality network coverage across the country,” Adok said in a statement last week.

However, several Juba City residents sounded out by Radio Tamazuj said the adjustment will increase the cost of communication and affect them negatively.

Luiza Poni, a businesswoman, said the upward tariff adjustment will affect her communication with her clients as she will have to dig deeper her into her pockets to pay for airtime and internet.

“It will definitely affect me because every day I normally subscribe for 18 minutes of voice bundles for SSP 200 so with the increment that will not be enough,” she said. “Every day I subscribe for voice bundles twice, now I will have to subscribe once and that will not be enough. I am a business person and I need to contact a lot of people.”

Reja Glady Joseph, a lecturer of economics at the University of Juba said the increment will negatively affect the local population which will have to spend more on telecom services.

“If I buy airtime for SSP 500 or 1,000, I may not finish my conversation. I have increased my airtime and internet bundle budget,” she explained. “Given that liquidity is scarce, people are trying their best. So, what will happen is that people who have money will try to increase their budget for telecommunication services but if you do not have a budget, that means you have to limit your communication.”

Deng Dau, another Juba dweller, said citizens are worried that the increment in telecommunication tariffs will worsen the already dire economic situation.

“The increase in the tariffs is going to affect the cost of making calls or sending messages,” he said. “Much as the telecommunications companies are businesses trying hard to provide the needed services, we, the citizens are barely keeping up with the harsh economic situation.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Department of the School of Economics and Social Studies at the University of Juba, Morris Madut Kon, agreed with the NCA’s tariff increment, saying that it was in line with the country’s current economic situation.

“The burden will be on the consumers. In this case, the callers will have to dig their hands deeper into their pockets to pay for the services at a higher rate and this all comes down to the economy not being stable,” he stated.

The NCA however qualified that the increment in the tariffs will be rollout in phases to allow consumers to adjust accordingly.

“However, to avoid so much disruption in people’s livelihood, the NCA has worked out a pocket-friendly scaling modality that will be rolled out from the period of 15 September to 15 December,” last week’s NCA statement said.

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