The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has given approval for telecommunications companies in the country to double their tariffs in the local currency (ZWL). However, the tariffs in US dollars remain the same.
Economic factors such as currency stability, electricity prices, and fuel costs have fluctuated significantly, leading to the need for a review of the local currency tariffs for telecommunications companies, the Chronicle cited industry experts. The move by POTRAZ is meant to support the struggling telecommunications sector.
This is the third increase this year due to the local currency losing value against the US dollar, NewsDay‘s Belinda Chiroodza reported. The latest adjustment was made because the currency depreciated by 444% since April. Telecommunications providers raised prices to ensure their services remain valuable.
According to Gift Machengete, the Director-General of Potraz, the tariff changes were determined based on 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."
Voice tariffs have doubled to US$0.40 per minute, and data tariffs now stand at US$0.63 per megabyte. However, these rates still fall below the regional average. Providers like Liquid Home Zimbabwe have announced further data increases.
These tariff adjustments may help providers, but they pose challenges for consumers who earn salaries in the local currency. High internet charges have long been a concern, raising the need for pricing limits to protect economically disadvantaged individuals. The sector’s dominance by monopolies and weak regulatory oversight contribute to the problem.