South Sudanese react to new call rates

South Sudanese react to new call rates
South Sudanese will pay double the normal call and data rates by November.

A countrywide backlash from the public ensued after telecommunication companies announced higher tariffs, forcing subscribers to dig deeper into their pockets.

The country’s main mobile network operators—MTN-South Sudan and Zain—increased their tariffs by more than double, which will gradually reach their peak of SSP 600 per unit in 90 days effective from September 15, 2022.

The move, announced last week by the South Sudan National Communication Authority (NCA) on behalf of mobile network providers, is aimed at cushioning the companies in the wake of the high exchange rate.

During the announcement, the NCA Director-General, Napoleon Adok Gai, said the decision was overdue owing to the “suffering” of the people, particularly in remote areas, who need quality services amidst inflation.

“Understanding the suffering of the people of South Sudan due to global inflation, NCA has been reluctant to adjust the tariff exchange rate,” Adok said.

 “However, our attempt to control the current exchange rate at SSP 300 was unsustainable for the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) because we are demanding them to provide quality network coverage across the country.”

However, the reviewed tariffs triggered a serious backlash from most citizens who consider it an “exploitation and cheating” of common people.

Rudolf Wani* told The City Review that “I do not feel like [the decision] is really good given the current economic crisis we have in South Sudan. How will a common man know about his loved ones in the village or other parts of the country?”

He added, “It means that only those who afford such high tariffs will use phone communications. But do you think this is fair? No. They just want to suppress communication, which I believe is a bad decision at the moment.”

Some who took to social media have bitterly opposed the hiked tariffs.

“So MTNSSD, you have decided to increase the data prices honestly this is unfair to the people of South Sudan when will this exploitation stop? Stop cheating us,” a user identified as FineFine Junub tweeted.

Adher Kon Achuil posted saying: “Dear MTN South Sudan, I told you the other day to come and collect your SIM Card but do not forget to refund me (give me my money) which I bought it [with].”

South Sudan last officially adjusted tariff rates in November 2020 to SSP 10.30 but later climbed to SSP 30 per minute. However, many subscribers have been complaining of poor networks, limited coverage, and strange noise.

The current tariff adjustment which will gradually reach the same official exchange rate of the Central Bank is subject to review, according to NCA.

The current Central Bank exchange rate is at SSP 688 per US dollar.