DRC's regulator rubbishes claims of mobile tariff increase
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s telecommunications industry regulator, the Authorite de Regulation Postes et Telecom (ARPTC), has refuted claims of an increase in mobile tariffs and warned that mobile operators cannot adjust tariffs without regulatory approval.
The regulator was reacting to claims made by the Federation of Companies of Congo (FEC) that the “country’s operators are preparing to increase tariffs due to the introduction of new taxes by authorities on telecom operators.”
The FEC said operators would increase tariffs for the services on which the taxes are to be levied and that operators would withdraw certain services to customers.
The organisation added that the government must reconsider the taxes because “they unnecessarily increase households’ expenses” in already difficult socio-economic conditions.
It said, “Operators have no other choice than to raise the tariff of various services on which the government is now levying additional taxes. Operators are forced to cancel some of the generous offers including Facebook Flex made for users. The taxes are also likely to repel investors the country need for its development. Once again, the FEC reminds the authorities of the need to create a legal, regulatory and fiscal environment that will likely consolidate current investments and even attract new ones.”
In March this year, the government introduced new taxes, including the assessment of QoS offered to customers, personal data protection supervision, and technical control of the telecommunications infrastructure, and said revenue would be used to fund some services rendered by the regulator.
The new taxes include US$0.0075 on each minute of voice call, US$0.00005 per megabit of data and US$0.003 for each SMS sent.
Amos Kalunga, a telecommunications researcher at Computer Association of Zambia said, “Every tax that the government imposes on consumers only makes the cost of communication beyond the reach of the poor. It’s not in any way good for digital inclusion and the development of the sector as a whole.”