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South Sudan increases mobile call tariffs

A mobile phone vendor from Cameroon prepares for a day of business in Juba, South Sudan (AP Photo)
March 1, 2019 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s telecoms agency decided to increase call tariffs by 40 per cent due to face inflation and the falling exchange rate of South Sudanese pound.

There are only two cell companies in South Sudan, Kuwaiti Zain and South African MTN. Both say they are facing difficulties but project to overcome the current losses in the future.

South Sudan’s telecoms regulator, the National Communication Authority (NCA) said in a statement released on Friday that it decided to raise the cost of calls to safeguard the availability of services.

"The (NCA) "would like to inform the general public that due to the depreciation of the South Sudanese pound (SSP) to U.S. dollar the mobile network operators requested a review of the current tariffs exchange of 70 SSP (0.5 U.S dollars) to 170 SSP (1.08 dollars)," said NCA chief Ladu Wani Kenyi in a statement released in Juba.

The revenues the operators "currently generate cannot cover the cost of their operations and maintenance of networks," stressed Kenyi.

The new tariffs will come into effect on March 7.

Last year, the South Sudanese authorities shut down Vivacell saying that it had failed to pay over $60 million in taxes since its establishment.

MTN and Zain plan to expand their operations and to propose new services after facing huge economic and security challenges during the five years of civil war.

The shutdown of market leader Vivacell in March 2018 led to an unexpected surge in demand, beyond their network capacity.