GSM regulator PURA has reacted to a recent survey which listed Gambia among the 8 most expensive for mobile data in Africa. In their reaction, PURA stated:
“Recently, Statista published its study on the ‘Price for Mobile data in The Gambia as of 2021’ (in U.S dollars per gigabyte). The survey outlet reported that on February 5, 2021, it rolled out a survey that generate data from 31 respondents from The Gambia revealing that one gigabyte of mobile internet in The Gambia cost an average of $5.86 in 2021. The platform further ranked The Gambia 192nd out of 230 countries worldwide. Equally, The Gambia is said to be among the most expensive countries for mobile data in Africa with the ranking of 8th position.
In addition, the survey results disclosed that the determinants for high pricing attributed to lack of infrastructure and rising taxation in the mobile sector which serves as a major impediment to affordable internet. It also cited taxes and fees paid by mobile operators in Sub-Saharan Africa correspond to 26 percent of the sector market revenue.
Concerning the survey findings, PURA received these results with deep concern. PURA is relentlessly pursuing sustainable solutions to the quandary of internet affordability in the country.
The Authority, in consideration of mobile data price acknowledges the fact that affordability and accessibility remain a huge concern. Efforts have been accelerated to address this situation.
In the context of The Gambia, the high cost of internet is due to several factors which includes the relatively new ACE infrastructure, low fixed broadband penetration of approximately 4000 subscribers, taxes, and the ability of the ISPs to attract huge investment since all of the operators/players are local. Another challenge is the unavailability of a constant supply of electricity coupled with high cost of energy and the reliability of the national fibre backbone resulting in operators providing their own parallel transmission infrastructure, which adds up to the overall cost of providing the service.
Presently, it is also crucial to understand that we operate in a liberalized market where prices are not regulated per se for purposes of competition with the expectations that the level of competition will ultimately result in price reduction.
However, where the competition fails to address the high prices issue, as in the case of The Gambia, the Regulator is empowered to do a market assessment study to address barriers to effective competition as well as pricing structure.
To this effect, PURA is working hard to conduct a market assessment study that would ultimately inform and determine the actual intervention strategy necessary to address the market anomalies.
Another fundamental remedial measure the Authority intends to embark on is to procure a tariff verification equipment. This equipment is expected to address the issue of credit and megabyte/gigabyte discrepancies between consumers and operators. When this is available and implemented, it shall usher in greater transparency in the consumption of units/megabytes and assist in determining fair pricing.
PURA is determined to ensure fair play, better and efficient services crucial to attaining equity in the Gambian market at all time”.