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Liberia Bemoans Plans to Hike Data Costs

Liberia, one of Africa’s smallest economies, has seen a rapid growth in mobile users over the last decade, but its regulators are stuck in an ongoing pricing battle with two of the region’s largest telecoms companies in the world. French giant Orange and Lonestar Cell MTN, a subsidiary of South Africa’s MTN Group have told consumers they are increasing prices because of a new order which imposes additional surcharges of $0.008 for each minute of voice calls and $0.0065 on each megabyte of data. Prior to the implementation of price floors in 2019 a $1 recharge card gave customers three days unlimited free voice calls within their respective networks, and data was priced at $1 per one gigabyte. The implementation of price floors in 2019 saw an increase in the price of data to $2 for 1.2 gigabytes and $1 for 45 mins of voice calls. Less than a year later, Liberians are faced with another significant increase in the prices. Additionally, the increase in data cost would most likely lead to a reduction in access to the internet. According to the Alliance for affordable internet, Liberia ranks 56 out of 61 countries globally on the affordability of internet. This ranking is based on cost of data as relation to average monthly income.