This medium reliably learnt that due to the recent hike in the prices of petroleum products, electricity tariffs and the foreign exchange rate in the country, the telecommunications sector is expected to normalize its tariff soon.
According to our source, it is without gainsaying that all other sectors have adjusted their charges as a result of the factors listed above but it is only the telecommunication sector that has been left unattended.
“We are of the view that if nothing is done to protect the sector from facing economic insolvent it will be counterproductive to the State in terms of revenue generation, youth employment and providing financial as well as moral support to national activities,” a Civil Society activist averred adding that the sector, which has been ostensibly neglected, is currently one of the highest taxpayers in the country that has the highest rates of youth employment.
He went on to state that with no iota of doubt, if the tariff normalization does not take effect soon, there is a tendency for over 50% of staff within the sector to lose their jobs adding how there is also a proclivity for the sector to scale down or short down some sites in remote areas where they are spending millions of Leones to provide connectivity.
The Civil Society activist maintained that such itself will be a burden on the people and Government of Sierra Leone which is more the reason that the tariff adjustment is needed now to prevent such shortfall in the sector.
He underscored that other areas, like the media, sport, entertainment, tourism, education, child welfare, civil society etc that are currently benefitting hugely from the magnanimity provided by the telecommunication sector will be left to suffer; particularly the media fraternity.
A seasoned Economist, Dennis Sankoh has argued that when the cost of producing goods or services is higher than the profit margin, it will lead to a shutdown of operation. He, therefore, urged the Government of Sierra Leone to intervene by factoring a new tariff adjustment to protect the telecommunication industry from falling or find a win-win situation that will lead to economic equilibrium in the sector.
“If the telecommunications sector continues to face serious economic challenges or crisis it will hurt the economy in terms of services, trade, Corporate Social Responsibility and employment,” he sounded a word of caution further applauding the telecom sector for still being committed to driving investment in the sector.
In an opinion expressed by an Economics expert, the constant rise in input costs whilst the tariffs are stagnated at a rate that had been fixed since January 2023, will make it extremely difficult for the sector to make more gains in terms of investment and creation of jobs in the country. He added that the situation will be further exacerbated by the devaluation of the Leone as against the dollar.