Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator ordered mobile telecommunication companies to reverse a 10% tariff hike that was meant to cover rising costs.

The Nigerian Communications Commission said in an emailed statement that its board didn’t approve the increase, which had been initially agreed with the companies.

“As a result, it is reversed,” it said.

Wireless service providers in the West African nation are facing increased operating costs, with inflation accelerating to a 17-year high of 20.8% in September.

Cost pressure has been compounded by a weakening currency and more than a 200% jump in the price of diesel, which is required to power towers across the country due to the poor power supply.

MTN Nigeria is the biggest wireless operator in Africa’s most populous nation, while Airtel Africa Plc, which listed in Lagos and London in 2019, vies with local operator Globacom Ltd. for the No. 2 slot.

The regulator said that it had forced the reversal of a proposed 5% tax on telecommunication services earlier this year, “in order to maintain a conducive enabling environment for the telecom operators.”

The government’s priority is “to protect the citizens,” and “anything that will bring more hardship at this critical time will not be accepted,” it said in its statement.

Rising living costs are a key issue in the country as it gears up for national elections in February next year.

The ruling party faces stiff competition from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party, whose candidate has emerged as the frontrunner in three seperate opinion polls.