Data tariffs: Ball is in your court, Potraz tells Parly

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By Staff Reporter

PARLIAMENT has been called upon to speed up the process of passing requisite legal instruments that will ensure competitiveness, the protection of consumer rights and viability of the telecommunications sector.

Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) director general Gift Machengete, told legislators from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information Communication Technology in Nyanga last week that the body is working hard to strike a balance within the telecommunications sector one of the most lucrative in the country.

Machengete has had to ward off market sentiments that tariffs in Zimbabwe are higher than the regional average while the quality of service remains the lowest.

“On its part, the authority has also done a lot of work to craft regulations to promote sustainability and viability of the sector as well as promote the interests of consumers in terms of costs, access, variety and quality of service in line with its mandate.

“The legal instruments which are still at various stages include the Cybercrime Bill, Data protection Bill, Electronic Transactions Bill and the converged licensing framework. We now need to join forces with the committee to ensure the speedy enactment of these pieces of legislation,” said Machengete.

The workshop was organised by Potraz to afford parliamentarians a chance to get insights into the tariff formulation process according to Machengete.

“Honourable members of the August House, the thrust of this workshop is to familiarise you with the tariff formulation process as well as our quality of service monitoring tools.

“As you are aware, tariffs and quality of service are not mutually exclusive, hence, we have found it prudent to discuss the two together,” Machengete told lawmakers and senior officials from the National Assembly who attended the workshop.

“The objective of this workshop is to demystify and clarify certain misconceptions about tariffs and enlighten participants on quality of service issues.”

He added that the regulatory authority and players in the industry as well as consumers will need to walk a “tight-rope” in order to find each other.

“Our regulatory role is to ensure that tariffs remain affordable whilst maintaining a good quality of service. We also need to strike a balance between these two deliverables with that of viability on the part of operators. “Achieving this balance under the current harsh economic environment can be likened to walking a tightrope while pushing a wheelbarrow with a bucket of water on top of your head,” he said.

Machengete called on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to prioritise the sector in the allocation of foreign currency.

Deputy Information Communication Technology Minister Jerifan Muswere also attended the workshop in Nyanga.