by Nobleman Runyanga
Zimbabweans have welcomed the recent reduction in mobile data charges which was announced by the Postal and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) this week.
“The out of bundle mobile data charges threshold shall be reduced from the current average rate of 12.5 cents per Megabyte to 5 cents per Megabyte exclusive of all taxes. This applies to internet/data that is used outside the Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter bundles among others,” said POTRAZ in a statement this week.
“The (unstructured supplementary service data) USSD charges threshold shall be reduced from the current 12.5 cents per session to 5 cents per session exclusive of all taxes. This is meant to address the high transaction cost of e-payments and increase financial inclusion. To ensure that this reduction benefits the transacting public, the Authority has engaged the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) who will engage financial service providers so that the reduction is passed on the transacting public,” reads part of the statement.
A number of people, who the Harare Post spoke to, welcomed the development.
“If the reduction results in reduced transaction costs especially in this era of cash shortages, I welcome it,” said Revai Kambanje of Hatfield.
“Any reduction in charges in these hard economic times is very welcome but it would have gone a long way if it had covered social media such as Whatsapp which has become a very important way of communicating vital messages in our society,” indicated Dephne Muchina of Mabvuku.
“From a personal point of view, this is very welcome, but from an investor’s standpoint, this is bound to affect the operations of some telecommunication companies. Some of them borrowed to finance their infrastructure acquisition on the basis of projected cash flows predicated on the old tariff. A staggered implementation would ease the plight of the companies,” said Kudzanai Sharara, a business journalist and economic analyst.
POTRAZ left internet/data charges for internet access providers (IAPs) to market forces subject to regulatory approval.
A local IAP, ZOL Fibroniks has reportedly taken advantage of this provision to announce a 5 percent increase in its charges effective August 2018.
“When POTRAZ is announcing a massive reduction in data cost, ZOL decides to adjust prices for Fibroniks by an average 5 percent upwards effective August 2018,” Leonard Makombe of Cranborne complained in a tweet.