quinta-feira, fevereiro 05, 2004
Competition is Pro-Poor
There used to be a rhetoric peddled about by Nigerian government for years. It is the claim that state monopoly and of course establishment other state- owned corporations is to ensure "fair distribution of resources" and adequate provision of cheap basic amenities affordable to the entire citizens and create "economically equal citizens." Given the situation of things, evidence abound that the claim is far from reality.
The Nigeria telecoms sector until mid 90s was state monopolized. Aside from inefficiency and poor services that characterized the telecoms sector then, connecting to the octopus government telecoms outfit then would take nearly a year if not more. Neglect and poor attitude of the staff to work were things that nobody prays that it should recur.
The billing system was sometimes arbitrary, over-bloated and subject to fraud. The costs of installation were above the roof. The costs of telephone calls were determined by the telecoms company and government officials and not by market.
(...) instead of listening to the concern of the poor people which the government first said the public companies were out to protect and provided cheap services for, one of the Ministers of Communications had no balm to sooth the pain inflicted on the people than to say: "Telephone is not meant for the poor. The cost of telephone calls in Nigeria is the cheapest in the world."
Now [depois da abertuta do sector à iniciativa privada] it is estimated that over 8 million Nigerians own a mobile phone. The number will continue to surge. These Nigerians also maintain their phones. They pay for their services and recharge their phones. Out of these numbers
over 2 million are in the rural areas. Also out of the total figure of people with a mobile phone over 4.5 million of them are poor.
This is contrary to the minister's assertions that telephone is not meant for the poor. Increasingly, the same government-owned telecoms outfit that had its tariff jerked up and which the honorable minister said "is the cheapest in the world" has been reduced by over 50 per cent. Other private outfits also are towing that line.
The assertions that the poor cannot pay for services have been debunked. The fact is the poor can actually pay for efficient and reliable services. What is important is to create alternatives from which the poor people can be able to choose rather than forcing them to glue to government provided inefficient services. The best that could happen to the poor is to encourage fierce competition in every sector. That is the only way to promote their lots.
posted by Miguel Noronha 5:32 da tarde
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