How Guinea Bissau’s exorbitant broadcast licence fees compare with other countries

With a GDP of just a little over USD1.5 billion, Guinea Bissau is easily West Africa’s smallest economy. Indeed on any nominal GDP ranking of countries in the subregion, the former Portuguese colony would rank 14 places below Nigeria, West Africa’s largest economy.

Guinea Bissau would also rank 13 places below Ghana which is West Africa’s second-largest economy with a GDP of over US$ 78billion and 12 places below Cote d’Ivoire which is West Africa’s third-largest economy with GDP of over US$ 68billion.

However, there is this flagrant irony in which Guinea Bissau has the most expensive broadcast licensure regime in West Africa.

It will cost anybody wishing to set up a commercial television channel with nationwide coverage 500 million CFA Francs (over US$800,000) to acquire a licence. In the case of commercial radio with nationwide coverage, a licence would set an investor back 10,000,000 CFA Francs ($16,000).

Also, it costs 125 million CFA Francs (US$207,584.11) to renew a license for television and 2.5 million CFA Francs (US$4,077.23) to renew a license for radio.

Compared to the largest economies in West Africa, it costs over US$750,000 more to acquire a TV license in Guinea Bissau than in Nigeria, where the highest fee for any broadcast license is N 20million (US$43,431).

It also costs about US$791,000 more to acquire a television broadcast license in Guinea Bissau than in Ghana where a license to operate a television costs about Ghc105,000 (US$8,200).

Compared to Cote d’Ivoire, it costs almost four times more to acquire an authorization license to operate a private commercial television station in Guinea Bissau.

Below is a tabular representation of how the new licence fees of Guinea Bissau compares with other countries in the West Africa subregion.

Cost of licence to operate TV and Radio stations in four countries in West Africa

                  Country TV Licence


            Radio Licence


Guinea Bissau


816,547.50 16, 606.73
 Nigeria           Lagos/River State      Free to air  – 32,573

Cable – 21,715.74

   Outside of   Lagos/River


 Ghana  8,200                         –
Cote d’Ivoire 166,067.29 16,606.73


In the case of license renewals too, Guinea Bissau’s 125 million CFA Francs, (US$207,584.11) fee for television, every two years, and 2.5million CFA Francs (US4,077.23) for radio, compare notoriously.

Cost of renewal of licence in three countries in West Africa

            Country                 TV







    Guinea Bissau          207,584.11         4,077.23                  2
           Nigeria           10,857.87        10,857.87                  5
           Ghana            2,366.68         –                  2

(Note: Cote d’Ivoire does not have renewal fees readily available)

The foregoing makes Guinea Bissau’s commercial broadcast license about 18 times more expensive than the average broadcast license in the rest of the subregion.

But this used not to be the case                      

This exorbitant licensing regime in West Africa’s smallest economy is new – it came into effect in 2022 as part of the provisions of a new law N-13/2022 which was adopted by Cabinet in 2022.

Before the fee for acquiring an initial licence for commercial television jumped to 500 million CFA Francs, it was 7 million CFA Francs. The increase is over 7000%. Similarly, the fee for renewal jumped from 1 million to 125 million Francs.

The price of licence to operate a radio station with national coverage also went from 1.5 million CFA francs to 10 million with renewal for this category shooting up by 900% from 250, 000 CFA Francs to 2.5 million.

For community/religious radio, the initial licence fee ballooned to 3 million CFA Francs from 250,000. Renewal fee also increased from 250,000 Francs to 750,000 Francs.

Doing unto the media, what government does not wish for itself

The government has said the new fees are to help raise funds to build the economy and also develop the media. But as the MFWA points out, these fees can only be strangulating for an already struggling media in Guinea Bissau.

Plus, the new fees had been announced at a time that the country was still under the onslaught of COVID-19, a pandemic that saw the government in Guinea Bissau’s neighbour, Guinea, increasing subsidy to its press.

COVID negatively impacted the economy causing a negative 1.4% GDP growth in 2020. As a result the country was granted US$ 9.8million from the African Development Fund in 2020 and over US$ 20 million assistance package from the IMF in 2021.

It remains a flagrant irony that a government which had to fall on the good graces of others to weather the challenges of COVID-19 would slap such astronomical broadcast fees on its struggling media.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has already pointed out the new fees regime is unrealistic and oppressive. We reiterate this obvious fact and, once more, urge the government to drastically reduce these fees.

Share this story!

Related Stories