PHONE USERS OUTRAGED OVER ‘THEFT’
The Uganda Communications Commission has caused a storm of outrage over their directive earlier in the week, prohibiting mobile phone companies to use tariffs of less than 2 Uganda Shillings a second. This throws the entire industry into turmoil, as in particular smaller operators have successfully made headway in carving out market share at the expense of the market leader MTN, which – you guessed it – makes their subscribers pay the very same 2 Shillings tariff per second.
The UCC was promptly accused by wide sections of phone users of bias and called upon to reverse their arbitrary decision, while a range of contributors in radio call in shows all but accused the UCC of ‘stealing our money by making us pay double now’. UCC with their move also lends arguments to the opposition which was prompt to exploit this faux pas by a government regulatory authority for making life for Ugandans more expensive than the market had in fact decided, while the anger of the affected phone companies against in particular MTN, which they accuse under cover of anonymity for being behind the UCC directive, of desperately trying to protect their market share at the expense of consumers.
Compared to tariffs in Kenya, Ugandans still pay a lot more in comparison, but there too has the market leader Safaricom, aka Suffericom by disgusted users, has managed to have the Kenya Communications Commission ruled that no network to network calls can cost less than 70 percent of the mandated interconnection charges, again intervening in market mechanisms of tariffs reflecting demand and supply as if the two regulators had taken recent lessons in either socialist ideology or else, and more sinister, have succumbed to the pressure of market leaders wishing the monopoly days back.
Be it as it may, both regulators will be in for a rough patch ahead of them as parliamentarians known to this correspondent have vowed to raise the matter in the house to have UCC answer why they intervened in the market for little evident cause and as alleged in league with the big boy on the block … bullying taken to a regulatory level certainly is not smart in this day and age.