Washington – The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has opposed plans by MTN to charge their subscribers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) access to banking services from Oct. 21.
This came as the minister of communications, Isa Pantami, has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to work with the telecommunications service providers to reduce the price of data.
The Governor of CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, gave the bank’s position at a news briefing by the Nigerian delegation to the just-concluded World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, in Washington on Sunday.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that MTN, in an SMS message to its subscribers, had said the decision was
Responding to a question seeking his reaction to the announcement, the CBN governor said the bank would not allow that to happen.
“About five, four months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at Central Bank, Lagos.
“At that time, we came to a conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost. What we mean by a sunk cost is that it is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom company.
“But the telecom companies disagreed with us, they said it is an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason they needed to impose it.
“I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen. The banks are the people who give this business to the telecom companies and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage.
“I have told the banks that they have to move their business, move their traffic to a telecom company that is ready to provide it at the lowest possible, if not zero cost.
“And that is where we stand, and we must achieve it,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the transactions to be affected by the charges include intra- and inter-bank money transfers, through USSD, among
Also the minister of communications, Isa Pantami, has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to work with the telecommunications service providers to reduce the price of data.
According to Yusuf Abubakar, an aide of the minister, Pantami gave the directive to the regulator when he received a report on the implementation of the ministry’s short-term performance targets.
Abubakar said Pantami expressed dismay that despite the high cost of data, Nigerians do not enjoy good internet services.
“According to the report from a UK-based price comparison website , Nigeria is not among the top 10 African countries with low average price of data, a position the Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Pantami, finds worrisome considering the fact that the country has over 174 million internet users made public by the Nigerian Communications Commission,” Abubakar said in a statement.
“The minister also finds it unacceptable that with the prevailing high cost of data in Nigeria, the citizens still do not enjoy value for money as subscribers battle daily with illegal deduction of data, poor quality of service, among others.
“It is against this backdrop that the minister directed the NCC, the telecom regulators, to immediately work hand in hand with the telecom operators and ensure a downward review of the price of data in Nigeria, improved quality of service provided and check the illegal deduction of subscribers’ data.”