By Lamin Cham
GSM company QCell has said a recent ranking of The Gambia by cable.co.uk as the African nation with the most expensive data is not reflective of QCell’s data charges.
In a statement issued by the company in response to the article reproduced by The Standard, QCell said over the years, despite the increase in forex rates, data charges have been steadily coming down.
“In 2023, when we launched the only 5G network in The Gambia, QCell reduced its data tariffs by up to 40% as well as its on-net and off-net tariffs. As per industry standard, when one is to determine the average data cost in a county, 1GB is mostly used as a baseline,” QCell argued.
It said the claim by cable.co.uk that “the average cost of a 1GB plan is approximately $3.56 which is about D225 is at variance with the its tariff.
“QCell’s data tariff for 1GB is D130 which is approximately US$2 well below what the report said and if you consider all our regular data bundles, the average retail price for a 1GB plan is approximately D100 while on other platforms within the QCell network, 1GB is as low as D75 which is about US$1.2”, QCell stated.
The company said cable.co.uk failed to reflect this in its report. It said in order to determine prices, “there are various elements one has to look into explaining that QCell’s main objective is to provide the most innovate technological services at the most affordable cost and therefore, cost is quite sensitive to us and something we thoroughly look into”.
According to QCell, when comparison is made, the underlying factors driving price have to be equally looked at adding that The Gambia, with a population of approximately 2.64 million people and four players in the market has higher operational costs, for example, high electricity costs, fluctuation of forex rates as well as gateway maintenance fees, than other larger African countries.
The company said despite these factors, it has been able to reduce and maintain lower data prices.
The company said most surveys done by foreign consultants lack current information and it is imperative for journalists to consult key players as well as the regulator.