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Potraz doubles voice, data tariffs

by Staff reporter
27 Oct 2023 at 06:37hrs | Views
The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has implemented a significant increase in data and voice tariffs to aid the capital-intensive telecommunications sector, which has been struggling due to the sharp depreciation of the local currency.

This marks the third tariff increase this year, following adjustments in February and April. Since April, the local currency has depreciated by 444% against the US dollar, resulting in the need for telecommunications providers to raise prices to maintain the value of their services.

Gift Machengete, the Director-General of Potraz, explained in an interview with NewsDay Business that tariff reviews were based on changes in the Telecommunications Price Index. He stated, "The last computation for the sector was done in February 2023. At that time, we were using the July to December 2022 post-information. Now, the changes in the Telecommunications Price Index are used to review tariffs, and we did that in February and April 2023. At that time, we produced the tariffs of ZWL$94.41 for voice, ZWL$14.93 for data per megabyte, and ZWL$19.41 for SMS. These tariffs are no longer viable and fall well below regional average tariffs."

As a result, new tariff increments were applied to address this issue. Voice tariffs have increased to US$0.40 per minute, up from US$0.20 per minute, while data tariffs now stand at US$0.63 per megabyte.

Despite these increases, Zimbabwe's voice and data tariffs still lag behind the regional average. The cost of providing services remains high, which has led to ongoing quality issues with telecommunications services.

Local internet service provider, Liquid Home Zimbabwe, informed its clients of a 100% data increase starting next month, with another 50% increment scheduled for December 1, 2023.

While these tariff adjustments may provide relief to telecommunications providers in terms of costs, they pose a challenge for consumers, as most receive their salaries in the local currency. The issue of high internet charges has been a longstanding concern, with a report from the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development stressing that the sector's dominance by monopolistic interests, weak regulatory oversight, and consumer protection mechanisms contribute to the problem, making it essential to address pricing caps to protect the economically disadvantaged.

Source - newsday