Minister of Information Communication Technology Supa Mandiwanzira has admitted that Zimbabwe’s charges on voice calls and mobile data rank among the highest in the region. He also revealed that the government has commissioned a study to look into the issue of pricing. In an interview with weekly newspaper The Independent, Mandiwanzira said:
Consumers are right in complaining about the costs, it is a matter that has also been worrying us at the ministry in terms of the competitiveness of the pricing regime versus what prevails in similar markets within the region. The costs of telecoms in Zimbabwe, especially data, are very high compared to other countries in the region. The explanation that we have always received from the operators is that we are a landlocked country and therefore, when bandwidth eventually lands in this country, there are many charges, including charges to pass through other countries and they have to pay a fee, but if you compare our costs with Malawi and Botswana, for instance, which are also landlocked, you will find that our costs are still quite high.
The regulator with the operator did a survey about four years ago, which confirms that our voice rates are very high. Through what they call the lyric study, they agreed that the voice costs will come down, but you and I will agree that voice is no longer the most used of telecommunications services, but data is what is driving demand of the telecoms business and that is where the cost is still very high.
We have asked that there be another study to really determine the cost of data in this country and once that is determined, the authority should be able to determine whether we are being overcharged or the operators are being genuine in that they are actually not making a lot of money because the costs are high. We believe that given the debacle that happened in the beginning of the year (data price hike) regarding data prices, only a comprehensive study will be able to deal with this matter once and for all.
More: The Independent