Due to the recent hike in the prices of petroleum products, electricity tariffs, and the foreign exchange rate in the country, the telecommunication sector is expected to normalize its tariff soon.
It is without gainsaying that all other sectors have adjusted their charges as a result of the factors listed above but it is only the telecommunication sector that has been left unattended.
We are of the view that if nothing is done to protect the sector from facing economic insolvent it will be counterproductive to the state in terms of revenue generation, youth employment, and providing financial and moral support to national activities. This sector which has been ostensibly neglected is currently one of the highest taxpayers in the country that has the highest rates of youth employment.
With no iota of doubt, if the tariff normalization does not take effect soon, there is a tendency for over 50% of staff within the sector to lose their jobs and there is also a proclivity for the sector to scale down or short down some sites in remote areas where they are spending millions of leones to provide connectivity. This itself will be a burden on the people and government of Sierra Leone which is more the reason that the tariff adjustment is needed now to prevent such shortfall in the sector.
Other areas, like the media, sport, entertainment, tourism, education, child welfare, civil society, and other sectors that are currently benefitting hugely from the magnanimity provided by the telecommunication sector will be left to suffer; particularly the media fraternity to which we belong.
A seasoned economist, Mr. Dennis Sankoh has argued that when the cost of producing goods or services is higher than the profit margin, it will lead to a shutdown of operation. Therefore, he has urged the government of Sierra Leone to intervene by factoring a new tariff adjustment to protect the telecommunication industry from falling or find a win-win situation that will lead to economic equilibrium in the sector.
“If the telecommunications sector continues to face serious economic challenges or crisis it will hurt the economy in terms of services, trade, Corporate Social Responsibility, and employment,” he warned, adding by applauding the telecom sector for still being committed to driving investment in the sector.
However, the economic expert is of the view that the constant rise in input costs whilst the tariffs are stagnated at a rate that had been fixed since January 2023, it difficult for the sector to make more gains in terms of investment and creation of jobs in the country. He added that the situation will be further exacerbated by the devaluation of the Leone as against the dollar.