SMEs express worry over high data charges, poor quality of service


Small businesses, especially those in the information technology sector, have expressed worry and discontent over what they consider to be the high cost of using the Internet and its associated poor quality of service.

In an interview with the B&FT some of the businesses, which are of different sizes, shared their thoughts on how they are reeling under the pressure of data charges that are not commensurate with quality of service.

Richard Yaw Bansa, CEO of Apps n’ Mobile Solutions Ltd. – a software development company, said he spends not less than GH₵1,500 on Internet charges alone every month.

“Internet service is erratic and too expensive in Ghana. As an IT firm, we rely heavily on the Internet. But if you look at the cost we are not talking about less than GH₵1,500 per month. If you want to have a reliable Internet service that won’t interrupt your operations, then we are looking at not less than GH₵3,000 a month; that is only for the Internet, not to talk of other bills like electricity and water,” he said.

Another firm in the IT space that provides education solutions, Avenir Ghana, said it spends not less than GH₵800 on Internet charges per month.

“We use a network that gives us 200GB for GH₵400, and that isn’t enough to take us through the month: so, we always buy double of that, making it GH₵800. The problem with it, also, is that the service is not always reliable,” Fianu Kofi Dovlo, co-founder of the company said.

Again, Edmund Somuah, CEO of Createch Solutions – a digital marketing company, said he spends not less than GH₵70 a week on data connection alone.

“I spend GH₵70 a week for the Internet bundle I purchase from my service provider; sometimes even buying more, depending on the volume of work. So roughly, I spend about GH₵300 a month for my small business,” he said.

For Kofi Genfi, a co-founder of CYST, the Mazzuma payment platform service provider, said for his company cost of data would have be within reasonable amounts if the service was of good quality.

“For me, if it was only about the cost I would have said it was OK. We spend around GH₵400 monthly on Internet. But what makes it expensive is, sometimes, the poor quality of service.

“If the service is poor, you cannot even exhaust the data you bought and it will expire at the end of the given period; then, you need to buy the same amount again. So, I think beyond the cost Internet service providers should also be concerned about quality of service,” he said.

The SMEs are therefore calling on ISP businesses to revise their Internet charges, and also calling on government to help provide the service at a cheaper rate.

Internet users as of June 2017 in Ghana were estimated at around 10 million, representing about 35 percent of the country’s population.

Commenting on the high cost of data, Deputy Minister of Information George Andah told the media in April 2017 that government will soon address the problem in order to help businesses grow.

“If you look at the cost of Internet data at the landing sites across West Africa, Ghana’s cost is very competitive and reasonable compared to other countries; but after processing the data, the cost becomes extremely high – and this is what we intend to address,” he said.

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