Outcry Over Data Price Hikes

by | Apr 16, 2024 | Business, International, Local News | 0 comments

Outcry Over Data Price Hikes

Business Reporter

THE increase in tariffs by the telecommunications service providers has sparked consumer outcry despite approval by the regulator, with ordinary people and business leaders saying the upward review has pushed access to digital services beyond the reach of many while increasing the general cost of business.

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) announced the new voice, data and SMS tariffs in local currency last week Friday, as businesses finally switched to the new Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) currency.

The regulator pegged voice tariffs for mobile network operators at ZiG 0,0098 per second, with data now selling at ZiG 0,0928 per megabyte while an SMS now costs ZiG 0,1207.

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe’s cheapest private Wi-Fi bundle package of eight gig costs ZiG 220, which if converted to forex using yesterday’s exchange rate will cost about US$16. On the other hand if an individual is directly buying using foreign currency, the same package costs US$13. The biggest package of 50 GB costs ZiG 1 133, which is equivalent to about US$84.

NetOne monthly package of 1,5GB costs ZiG138. Bulk data service provider, Liquid Intelligent’s unlimited package costs ZiG 5900, which is equivalent to about US$437.

Speaking at the recent stakeholder engagement meeting,

Potraz director general, Dr Gift Machengete has said while the need to increase tariffs may seem counterproductive in a world where affordability is paramount, it was crucial to strike a delicate balance between ensuring access to essential ICT services and safeguarding the long-term viability of the sector.

As the country increasingly embraces the fourth industrial revolution and the Internet of things, business leaders insist there is a need to address affordability of data and other digital services.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Matabeleland

Chapter vice president, Mr Mackenzie Dongo said service providers should strike a balance between data tariff increases and ensuring smooth business operations.

“These days, most business is conducted online,so the more costly data is, the more costly it becomes to run a business. In Zimbabwe, we are seriously looking at the cost of doing business, which we feel is higher and usually, it’s actually passed on to the end users,” he said.

“So, affordable data means affordable end products. If it’s expensive then the end product is going to be expensive,” said Mr Dongo.

He said service providers should strive to make Internet services more reliable and cost effective to consumers. Mr Dongo said there is a need to revisit the cost of data and making it more affordable not just for business but the general public as well.

Bulawayo businessman and economic analyst, Mr Morris Mpala, said considering that most business is being done virtually, the latest increase in data prices is expected to have a downstream effect on other businesses.