By Sami Zaptia.
London, 23 February 2020:
Libya’s General Authority for Communications and Informatics announced a 50 percent reduction in the prices of subscriptions and internet packages provided by state telecommunications companies.
The Authority said that the decision came after a series of meetings and discussions with specialists to ensure that the reduction does not cause any negative effects on the budgets of the companies concerned.
It explained that the decision to slash prices comes as part of the Authority’s efforts to improve the level of communication and information services, to enable citizens to access internet services in the easiest way and lowest prices, to promote the culture of digital knowledge and to keep pace with the technological development of all age groups in Libya.
The huge price cut has come as a surprise to many experts in the field. Well placed telecoms sources in Libya told Libya Herald that the price reduction was too high. It presumes that Libyan telecoms companies are earning more than the 50 percent reduction in profits – which they insist they are not.
The sources put profits at no more than 30 percent and, therefore, they see the price cut as a new type of subsidy. This, they add, at the very time when the Libyan state is struggling economically and attempting to reduce inherited Qaddafi-era subsidies.
They predicted that the main state company supplying internet services would go bust soon if the cut was implemented. They doubted that the 50 percent would be implemented at a time when Libya’s telecoms companies needed to implement huge investments to upgrade the internet service and quality in the country.
They see the decision as a political one taken unilaterally without even consulting Libya’s internationally recognized government.
It will be recalled that the internet service in Libya has come in for huge criticism with its poor quality and lack of reliability. The crash in the value of the Libyan dinar and in standards of living had made it relatively more expensive. Libya’s ever-present power cuts since its 2011 revolution has not helped reliability either.