Exorbitant Internet Cost: Customers Call For Cheaper Tariffs, Urge Gov’t To Reduce Tax On Telecommunication Companies

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By: Dawda Baldeh

The high cost of internet services has left many people dissatisfied and unhappy in The Gambia who used the internet daily. These people described their internet misery as unfavourable. Online Communication has become more difficult in the country due to the ever-rising cost of internet services.

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Good and cheap Internet connectivity is important to ensure effective communication, considering that both literates and illiterates use social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp etc for daily online communication.

Hundreds of thousands of people spend money on internet service on daily basis. The cost of internet in the Gambia is considered to be unimaginable compared to the cost in neighbouring countries.

Internet users have lamented their challenges and urged the government to reduce tax on telecommunication companies to prevent people from high internet costs.

Hagi Suwaneh, United Democratic Party’s (UDP) 2nd Vice President of the National Youths Wing, said the cost of internet in The Gambia is too expensive compared to other African countries.

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“Customers must stand up against the authorities such as PURA, GAMTEL and GRA. The 37.30% deduction goes to GRA as VAT & sport Development Levy tax,” said Hagi Suwaneh, an internet user.

In Suwaneh’s view, the government is ripping off internet users seriously with very poor-quality network connectivity. For Hagi, the government must reduce tax on the telecommunication companies so that they (telecommunications) can also reduce their tariff.

He blamed the high internet cost on the high tax imposed on telecommunication companies.

In Hagi’s analysis, for every D100 credit customers recharge on their telephones and use it, over 22% tax is charged and fifty bututes per minute deduction for every call for sports development levy is calculated and directly debited from the customer’s purchase and paid to GRA.

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“This means 50 bututs per minute call is taxed as sports levy which is like 15.15% tax if that minute call is D3.30. 22.25% + 15.15% = 37.30% of customers’ purchase will be Taxed according to the statistics.

“With all these extreme high charges and costs to the consumers, yet the service providers cannot provide us with good quality and fast connectivity,” he stressed.

The cost of internet connectivity in other countries is said to be cheaper compared to the Gambia, it also promotes digitalization and creates jobs to improve the economy.

“Whenever I purchased credit and convert it to megabytes, I used to be happy. Because I see a hundred per cent (100%) bonus. But the megabytes would get finished within a blink of an eye, sometimes this makes me worry because am a student and I cannot afford to buy credit always to do my research,” Sheriffo Saidy, a third-year Political Science Student at the University of The Gambia highlighted.

According to previous data published by Daily News and authored by Sulayman Waan in 2021, Internet service is cheaper in neighbouring Senegal than in The Gambia. The Orange Company limited charges 75MB at 250 CFA for 24 hours.

This means it charges 75MB at 23.4 dalasis for 24 hours. It charges 400MB at 400 CFA for 24 hours equivalent to 400MB at 37.5 dalasis for 24 hours.

The Orange company sold 1GB at 1000 CFA for 3 days, equivalent to D93.7 for 1GB for 3 days of usage. And it also sold 7GB at 5000CFA for 30 days, equivalent to D468.6 per 7GB for 30 days.

As digital marketing becomes the rapid modern way of creating larger markets and reaching out to many consumers.

Internet users said if the internet is expensive like in the Gambia with poor quality, it will only further create economic hardship for the citizens.

Therefore, “consumers must come out and stand up against the daylight robbery. We must face the government and force them to reduce the high tax on the telecommunications companies,” the outspoken internet user added.

Rates of Africell and Q-Cell

Africell, the biggest mobile services provider in The Gambia with a 57% user share charges 50MB at D26 for a 30-day browse equivalent to 50MB at 278.5 CFA for 30 days.

This company also sold 100MB at D45 for a 30-day browse equivalent to 100MB at 481 CFA for a 30-day browse. It sold 200MB at D90 for a 30-day browse, equivalent to 200MB at 963 CFA.

It sold 500MB at D145 for a 30-day, equivalent to 500MB sold at 1553.5 CFA. Africell also sold 1GB at D250 for a 45-day browse, equivalent to 1GB sold at 2677.7 CFA for 45 days. In addition, the giant electronic company charges 5GB at D770 for 60 days of usage while this one is equivalent to 8247.23 CFA for two months of usage.

The company is also charging 970 dalasi for 8 GB, 1300 dalasi for 10GB, 1615 dalasi for 12GB, and 1620 dalasi for 13GB valid for 30 days.

Rates of Qcell

QCell a major competitor of Africell company with nationwide coverage is cheaper than all the GSM operators owing to its recent promotion with a 100% bonus. It charges 40MB at D18; 160MB at D31; 150MB at D58; 1.5GB at D82 and 8GB at D975 respectively.

These charges are equivalent to 40 MB at 192.79CFA; 160 MB at 332.02 CFA; 150MB at 621. 22 CFA, 1.5GB at 878.28 CFA, 8GB at 10442.92 CFA respectively.

Despite the recent hundred per cent promotions that Qcell provided for its customers, some said it is not satisfactory because the internet services go off quickly.

According to a recent publication by the Standard Newspaper, Yankuba Darboe, the Commissioner General of The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) revealed that Africell company pays over D100 million in taxes every month totalling over D1.2 billion annually.

However, this medium has contacted Africell and Qcell to get their response to this concern, but they are not reachable. Their response will be published once they get in touch.

 

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