INTERNET

COTE D’IVOIRE: MASSIVE RATE RISE CAUSES CRISIS FOR SMALL CYBER-CAFES

- Cote D’Ivoire Telecom is putting up its rates again, writes Kokou Adediha. Although international rates have come down because of reductions through IP calling, local rates are being rebalanced upwards. It is the third time in two years that it has put its prices up. The new tariff takes effect on September 2003 sees local tariffs go from 14.5 CFAFs a minute without tax to 45 CFAFs a minute without tax.

These rate rises are affecting cyber-cafes who use ‘Réseau Téléphonique Commuté’ or dial-up. In January 2002 many cyber-cafes with less than four machines were hot by a rise in local tariffs. They were hot again on 1 April this year another rise to 32.5 CFAFs per minute before the forthcoming September increase. So their cost for connecting to an ISP’s server has gone from 1044 francs TTC to 3240 francs TTC. The result is likely to see the closure of many of CI’s smallest cyber-cafes in a situation in which the big fish seem to be gobbling up the smaller ones down the food chain. With bandwidth supplied at 3240 francs an hour and sold at a maximum of 1000 francs an hour, the smaller cafes are caught in the vice of these new commercial realities. Key players in the internet sector have denounced these price increases by monopoly supplier Cote D’Ivoire Telecom in the local press. But CI Telecom’s critics can wait patiently: firstly, the company, owned by France Telecom, will lose its monopoly in February next year and secondly political situation in the country is such that it is not the right moment to be having increases of this kind that public are not informed about until two weeks before the application.

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