By Saikujohn Barrie
I have been following events relating to the latest increment of prices of mobile data and calls in Sierra Leone.
Amidst the current economic hardship biting every Sierra Leonean save those enjoying state resources and their cronies, I think this increment will add more suffering for the masses, and it will also serve as a hurdle to the free flow of communication amongst citizens in the country.
Additionally, I think those who claim to have been seeking the interest of ordinary Sierra Leonean mobile users should have done a better job of avoiding or minimizing the huge negative effect on the citizens.
However, I do acknowledge in business terms, mobile operators also need to reclaim their cost of operations and make profits since it is a business they are operating for the sake of sustainability and continuity of business.
In addition, in as much as Sierra Leoneans are not happy about the increment, they are more devastated by the fact that they are paying more for services that they don’t even get satisfactorily.
I mean, there is hardly any value for money.
To make my point clearer, countless mobile users especially in the Provinces such as Falaba, Koinadugu, Kailahun, etc hardly download videos or make WhatsApp calls on their mobile devices.
Recently, I have heard many Sierra Leoneans complain of struggling to download videos and make WhatsApp calls.
Even making normal calls in some places in the provinces is a big challenge.
In that regard, since government officials are the ones going across the country to defend the mobile companies, or shall I say, explain the reasons for the increments, they must also insist that mobile operators greatly improve the services their customers are paying for.
Imagine someone biting both his lips to buy data and airtime for his mobile, just for him or her not to be able to download a video, log into a live program on Facebook he or she wants to watch or follow, or make WhatsApp calls.
How painful would that be?
That is exactly what most of our compatriots going through in that country, especially in the provinces.
My advice to the government is that instead of just perambulating the country to defend/justify or even explain the increment, why can’t you invest the same or more energy in insisting to these mobile operators that they must exponentially improve the quality of the services?
I think government officials should at least try to be seen as seeking and protecting the interest of the ordinary mobile users in that country.
It is on this note that I call on government to focus on the improvement of the quality of mobile services rather than merely defending the increase in prices of data etc. I think there should be penalties for unnecessary poor mobile services.