Communication is a key to the success of any nation in this 21st century especially a developing country like Sierra Leone where people are merely struggling to catch up with the world. Post war Sierra Leone has experienced a proliferation of mobile phone companies that have been providing phone and top up cards for subscribers in the country. Quite recently there has been a sharp increase in the cost of top up cards produced by these GSM companies. How has this increase affected subscribers and top up card sellers? Awoko’s William Ignatius Freeman finds out from members of the public.
Samuel Lamin: As for me I am using four phones and I am connected to all four mobile companies. Increment in the cost of top up cards has a corresponding increase in my spending capacity on top up. This will also affect the number of calls I make per day because I will have to think about the cost and whether the money will be available to buy.
Joseph S. Kamara:It is affecting me badly considering the economic crisis in the country. Their is business going on all over the place and communication plays a vital role to the success of a business, “Communication brings money”. As a young man I can manage and afford to buy credit at Le1, 500 but to make it Le1, 700 will be an added burden to poor people like us. My main concern is that the present tariff of Comium is high. I am appealing to them to consider a reduction in their tariff for the sake of the poor.
Rugiatu Veronica Conteh:I am a retail top card dealer and I sell for all the mobile companies except SIERRATEL.I am not happy with the increment that has taken place in the top up market. Initially we use to buy 1000 unit Africell,Zain and Comium top ups for Le26,000, Le 27,000 and Le 26,000 respectively and we sell them at Le30,000 but now the cost for 1000 unit we buy the wholesale at Le31,000 for Zain.Le30,000 for Africell and Le30,000 for Comium.We are not making much profit as before.Tigo has no problem the cost of their cards remain the same.
Moses Lebbie:In the first place the mobile companies did not behave responsibly because the fail to inform their customers prior to the increase. The increment in the price of the top up cards has forced me to cut down on the number of credit I used to buy for the week. I heard that some of the companies are using the increase in the cost of dollar as a reason for increasing cost. Is this the first time we are experiencing an increase in the price of the dollar? The Government is not taxing much but why are they inflating their prices just to exploit the citizens?
Philip A.E. Williams: I am a top up card dealer and since the new increment on Monday I am unable to buy top up from the wholesalers because the shops are all closed. My customers have accused me of inflating the price.
Abdurrahman Fofana: I am a top up dealer,I want the prices of top up to return to its normal cost. Some customers wanted to beat me yesterday because they thought I was cheating them by selling at a higher cost. It is the responsibility of the mobile phone companies to inform their subscribers about increase in the prices of top up but they failed to do that. I want the customers to show understanding since the fault is not ours.