It seems deliberations are ongoing in the inner recesses of the Nigerian Federal Government on how to subsidize the cost of data for the populace at this time. This was revealed in a podcast interview between Kadaria Ahmed and the country’s Minister of Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare.
According to Dare, “Data is actually life now because that is what is engaging everyone now, and I think within the inner recesses of government, that consideration is on-going to see how they can partner with communications companies to kind of subsidize data.”
This palliative measure, if endorsed, will be a response to the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Dare mentioned that the government is aware that the youths would feel the most impact of the crisis, and therefore was trying to provide a soft landing for them.
The subsidized price would be a product of a partnership between the FG and the telecommunication companies operating in the country.
Here is what people think
We spoke with some people about the possible effects of the move. While some people were outrightly happy with the development, others expressed doubt why it may not be the good move it appears to be, eventually.
Adedamola Raji, a fashion designer and Architectural graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, expressed his doubts about the FG’s capability to implement such a move, in the first place.
In his opinion, even if the move is implemented, another concern is “that the network service providers may increase the rate at which the data is consumed.”
Damilola Baiyeroju, a graduate of Mechanical Engineering Department from the University of Ibadan, was of the opinion that the move is a time bomb.
According to him, that would increase demand for data, if it is subsidized. While this in itself is not a bad thing, he went on to explain that the telcos may not have the required infrastructure to support the increased load as a result of subsidized data prices.
“The phone networks are a little more reliable during this period, but all the internet service providers like Spectranet and Smile and the rest are simply write-offs simply because they do not have the infrastructure to support this number of people on the internet at once.”Damilola Baiyeroju
Another thing to consider is accountability, according to Baiyeroju. He asked that who is to say that the telcos will not simply adjust whatever metric is being used to quantify the amount of data sold per unit.
Using the example of some filling stations that adjusted their pumps when the FG directed a fuel price reduction to compensate for the reduction in price, he said that same thing could happen if data subsidy was implemented.
On the basis of that, he concluded that if telcos had not made the initiative of reducing data cost for Nigerians by themselves, it was probably because they could not afford to do so or had no desire to. Therefore, if they partnered with the FG to provide reduced cost, Nigerians may find their data bundles depleting way faster than before.
Still, some are of the opinion that the move is a good one that will be beneficial to Nigerians.
Kizo Daniels, an SEO expert and graphic designer, shared that the prospect of reduced data prices is one that is much welcome, especially for youths whose primary resource for their daily work is data.
Taking a step further, he mentioned that a good number of young people also make use of Smile, Spectranet, and other routers for their data needs. Therefore, considering a subsidy in that regard as well will help the FG achieve the target of creating a soft landing for the youths.
Ayodeji Ajadi, a Law student in the University of Ibadan, reiterated that it was a good move by the FG and one to be commended. He said it is a welcome development because it will go a long way as people have resorted to the internet in this period.
“The internet makes the world a smaller village and people are turning to video conferencing as more people are working from home”Ayodeji Ajadi
The FG has not made a public announcement on the matter of data subsidy, and what we have heard is from the Minister for Youths and Sports. However, if implemented, a number of measures will have to be put in place as well to make sure the benefit of the data subsidy is actually being felt by Nigerians.
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