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Reduce the cost of data now – Minister orders service providers

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Price of mobile data services must go down, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, said on Tuesday.

He directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to work in concert with telecom operators within one week to achieve the reduction plan.

The minister, who spoke in his office, said he had been inundated with complaints by Nigerians who pay so much for data that hardly lasts.

The NCC team to his office was led by its Board Chairman Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye.

The Minister spoke in Abuja after NCC’s new Executive Commissioner (Stakeholders Management), Adeleke Adewolu was sworn in.

He said: “I am urging the management of NCC to work towards reducing the price of data in Nigeria. It is too costly and people are complaining every day.

“If you go to other countries, even countries that are not as largely populated as Nigeria, data prices are not this high. I am also a victim of some of the infractions that are so common in the industry.

“You load your data, but you barely use 20 per cent of it and the entire data is wiped off. Illegal data deduction is one of the issues that worry me badly today.”

The minister said he did not agree with an attempt by NCC to defend the operators.

“I was not fully convinced by the explanation. Please go, sit down and review that issue. It is very important and I want to get your feedback with that report in the next five working days with the decision on it.

“The complaint from Nigerians is beyond what I can handle as it is today. People are complaining. And it happened to me. I recharged my data line and used it, and I believe that what I used was not up to 20 per cent of what I purchased when it was wiped off, so that is an issue that is very important.

“I directed NCC to reduce the price of data downward. It is very important. Go and look at other African countries that do not have population like ours, even 20 per cent of our population; go and see the price of data there.

“As a regulator, the main agenda of NCC is to protect the customers; our priority should be the interest of Nigerians.”

Pantami praised the NCC leadership for its achievements, especially in five per cent broadband penetration and the de-activation of pre-registered and unregistered SIM cards.

He urged the commission to go a step further by ensuring that 3G and 4G technology are expanded in Nigeria.

He urged the new board member to key into President Muhammadu Buhari’s programmes, which he said are anchored on fighting insecurity and corruption and lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty as soon as possible.

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