It is no longer news that Communication is very essential today and ranks in the same class with Nuclear power, Space Science, Air Travel and such breakthrough experience in modern technology.
In third World Countries Communication is an expensive venture which the rich take advantage of to further suppress the poor or the underpriviledged.To own a communication gadget in these countries is adding to the pool of resources a man has and this is considered an asset that is listed on a person’s will when he passes on to the great beyond.
For instance, the owner of a blackberry phone, I-pod, Laptop or as it was back in the 1980’s, the possession of satellite dish in a person’s house was considered a luxury and therefore attracted envy.
It is understandable for people to feel that way especially as most households feed on less than two dollars per day and if translated into meals, sums up into 0-1-1 or 0-1-0 which in effect means that a family survives daily on launch and supper or lunch only, respectively.
In the same vein, Mobile Telephoning is a relative new media of communication which afford phone users to be reached anywhere they are where there is network connection.
Mobile Telephoninnng is no doubt changing the face of communication and is useful in uniting loved ones, transaction of busineses, helps in foiling crime and necessary for emergency situation.
Well, for those that have cell phones or Global System Mobile (GSM) as commonly called,lucky them! the issue of maintaining them and the night mare associated with paying daily tariff to their network providers remain the greatest challenge they have to face daily.
In other words, it is one thing to buy a communication equipment in developing countries and another to keep it active and working just in the long run for the service Providers to gain maximum profit from your continued patronage.
Time was when mobile telephoning came into most countries of the Continent of Africa that any network subsciber who does not make use of his/her phone to make calls for a maximum duration of three months is promptly penalized by blocking his SIM card which means no making or receiving calls again.
How hurting it can be for those who bought their SIM cards at exorbitant prices when GSM first made its debut in the African markets around late 70’s for some countries and early 80’s for others.
These days, inspite of poor network services being experienced by customers especially during festivities, holidays and harsh weather conditions, their tariffs are to say the least, exploitativet.One is save to say, it is the case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
The sad thing is that the ripple effect of the sale extravaganza is not felt by the people responsible for their success story; Iam talking about the small scale traders who perhaps took micro-credit to establish a recharge card shops in order to sell the products of the communication companies.
To survive in the business of retailing recharge cards therefore, one must be prepared to sell phone accessories like phone chargers, batteries, casing or even engage in recharging people’s phones using generators because electricity light in most third world countries is epileptic and an exclusive of the rich;which by the way describes the political class.
The exploitative attitude of these network providers have slowly assumed a dangerous dimension hence, compelling the innocent public to constantly appeal to Government of their countries to salvage them from their overbearing grip.
It is common to see the communication companies parading different products from the mundane to the sophisticated in a bid to attract subscribers to part with their hard earned money. Of course they always win due to the gullible disposition of the users.They now sell songs to be used as caller tunes, prayers by men of God, results of football matches of top clubs in the world are transferred to the sets of subscribers in exchange of a fee. Even Bible and quoranic verses for mediatations as they claimed, are also up for sale on request.
However, one wonder if these downloaded materials are covered by the piracy laws of the host nations and whether they pay royalties to the artists and authors of the resources they are copying.
Again, one continues to ask the question, how much worth of items or rewards do they give their customers particularly at the end of the year when they are taking stock of the companies end of year sales.
More worrisome is the latest sales gimmick adopted by most of these service providers in the name of “Promo”. They simply send questions to those who show interest in making extra money promising mouth watering prizes ranging from cash to valuable gifts such as cars and household items. Once they succeed in luring their victims to start playing, they drag them to a long unending game which makes the subscribers loose an equivalent of one dollar on each answer sent via Short Messaging Services (SMS).
On realizing this is a calculated fraud, many have backed out without a dime to reward their efforts. Majority of the top players in the communication industry in the third world countries are foreign companies whose main objectives is to make profits, so do not really have the genuine interest of their customers as their priority neither are they in the market to improve the economy of their host nations.
Agreed that the network companies pay heavily for obtaining their license to operate in such countries but that notwithstanding, they owe the communities that are patronizing them the responsibilities of providing their people with jobs and empower their youths through the distribution of their goods and services as well as participate in the sponsoring of major events or donation to charity and sport. That way their impact can be felt even at the grassroot.
Again, a situation where only few people benefit from the presence of Network Providers in their location by leasing or selling their personal properties for siting their mast or when these companies engage the services of cheap labour in the areas they are located for the installation of their plant, is not only lopsided but this gesture only empowers a select members of the society at the expense of the majority.
In a particular African country, one of about seven communication companies has changed its name four times in six years of it’s operation because the company’s ownership keeps changing hands. Good enough that it is not a liability company else Shareholders would have lost confidence in its managerial ability to deliver dividends to them due to instability.
Some of these network providers unfortunately are merely existing in name as their services are appalling and therefore do not elucidate public confidence.
Even the establishment of regulatory bodies by Government to ensure a level playing ground among network providers and provision and to make them provide cheap and affordable charges to their customers has not change their exploitative attitude. The companies claim that they are forced to act that way since they have to recover the fortunes they paid to obtain their operating license.
The only advice good to them is, “If they can not stand the heat in the kitchen, they should quit” period.