Nigerians may soon begin to pay higher tariffs on calls and data as the telecommunications companies in the country brace up for a new cyber security levy to be implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
This is coming on the heels of a directive from the CBN to all banks on the collection of 0.005 per cent levy on all electronic transactions into a National Cyber Security Fund.
Section 44 of the Cybercrime Prohibition and Prevention Act 2015, which the CBN seeks to implement, states that “there shall be paid and credited into the Fund established under subsection (1) of this section and domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria: a levy of 0.005 per cent of all electronic transactions by the businesses specified in the second schedule to this Act.”
Businesses affected by this charge include GSM service providers – MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9Mobile etc. and all telecommunication companies; Internet service providers; banks and other financial institutions; insurance companies and Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
However, speaking at a press conference in Lagos yesterday, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola, said the implementation of the levy is ill-timed, considering the fact that the telecom operators are currently battling with multiple taxation, which has risen from 26 in 2015 to 38 under the current administration.
“At this point, if the CBN decides to go ahead with the implementation, we will have no choice but to pass the cost to the subscribers. Nigerians should be ready to pay more for calls and data subscriptions,” he said.
Teniola added that with the additional burden, the operators might also consider downsizing their staff strength to stay afloat.
ATCON, which is a professional, non-profit, non-political umbrella organization of telecommunications companies of Nigeria, said all its members have concluded that the only way to survive with the new levy is to increase tariff across board.
“The eventual implementation of this levy of 0.005 per cent would cripple, if not render useless government and private sector efforts to speed up the broadband penetration in Nigeria and our association has a mandate to protect the investment in the telecom industry from undue pressure from the government in the form of yet additional burden on our members that are already overtaxed by all tiers of governments,” the ATCON President added.