Côte d'Ivoire Deputy Mayor Calls for Boycott of Orange and MTN Over Hike in Internet Prices

Boycott of Orange

Saturday April 15, 2023, Côte d’Ivoire – Early this morning, Tiemoko Antoine Assale, director of the satirical weekly “L’Eléphant déchaîné,” went live on Facebook calling for the boycott of Orange and MTN, two prominent telecom operators in the region, from the 15th to the 18th of April.

Deputy Assale is the only one out of 255 committed to the fight against the hike in internet prices in Côte d’Ivoire. Indeed, for several years, mobile phone operators have imposed exorbitant tariffs on their customers, without improving the quality of their services. This situation has angered consumers, who feel held hostage by these operators.

In the face of this situation, the deputy mayor Assalé Tiémoko Antoine has decided to act by calling for an active boycott of the services of these operators. This initiative aims to put pressure on the operators to reduce their tariffs and improve the quality of their services.

In his message, he requested that all necessary consumption be limited to a period between 10 AM and 3 PM until the end of the boycott. He goes on to call for the disconnection of Orange and MTN SIM cards and requests his followers to not purchase “data” or call credits from either operator. 

He also pointed out that this boycott includes any and all money transfers via mobile money through these telcos. And before he called for the mass unfollow of all pages related to Orange and MTN, he suggested that people migrate to other networks and repeatedly call both operators’ customer service to pass on the following message: “Respectez nos lois et les Ivoiriens”. (“Respect our laws and Ivorians.”)

The three leading telecom companies in the market, Orange, MTN, and Moov, lowered the data volume of their 4G plans while keeping the prices unchanged on April 7th. This decision caused an immediate backlash from consumers, leading to a petition demanding lower internet connection costs in Ivory Coast than Somalia, which received over 45,800 signatures.

The cost of one gigabyte of mobile data varies significantly in different African countries. According to the “Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing 2022” report, the cost is about $3 (€2.75) in Ivory Coast, which is considerably higher than $0.61 in Ghana and $0.63 in Somalia. A specialist in information and communication technologies, Cyriac Gbogou, explained that Ivory Coast consumers are subject to three taxes, including an 18% VAT, a 3% tax paid by internet users, and a 7.2% tax that the operator must pay to the regulator. Furthermore, the license fee for each operator is 100 billion CFA francs, which is approximately €150 million.