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60% drop in cost of basic utilities in Niger

The cost of basic utilities in Niger, including water, fuel, health care and education will go down by between 15 and 60 percent starting 15 March, the chairman of the country’s consumer organisation-Coalition for Equity-Quality Against High Cost of Living, Nouhou Arzika, announced Monday March 12th.

Arzika said the significant reductions were obtained following negotiations with the government, with water and telephone costs being reduced by 60 percent. Fuel prices would be reduced by 30 percent.

Medical consultation fees will go down from 3,500 francs CFA to 2,000 francs CFA, while examination and surgery fees will fall by 10 to 30 percent, Arzika further explained.

“On the cellular telephony, we were assured that the quality of service would be improved. We agreed with the Niger Telephone Company (SONITEL), that some charges, such as the cost of re-establishing connections after untimely breaks, renting handsets, etc, would be removed,” he said, adding that interconnection tariffs to cellular telephones, which was initially 100 francs CFA, have been brought down to 40 francs CFA.

The Coalition had demanded that government reduces by between 35 and 40 percent charges on water, electricity, telephone, school fees, as well as to cut down on the expenditure of the state and its officials.

However, the authorities in Niamey had argued that such a reduction would result in a 200 billion francs CFA loss to the country’s economy.

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