Govt slashes mobile data by 60 percent a month before elections

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Staff Writer

GOVERNMENT has slashed mobile data tariffs from 12.5 cents to 5 cents per MB, the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) said on Wednesday.

Potraz said the USSD costs for epayments will also be lowered from 12.5c to 5c per session as currency woes persist.

“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,” a statement from Potraz said on Wednesday.

Potraz said takes the change will take place with effect from July 1 this year and was result of the need to take “into account the prevailing economic environment as well as the competing needs of ensuring operator viability and service affordability” for consumers.

“These need to be balanced to ensure the delivery of high quality innovative services and applications which are critical in enhancing consumer welfare, business continuity and the country’s overall business competitiveness,” said Potraz.

This comes at a time when the internet is expected to play a key role as Zimbabwe gears towards elections due on July 30 with many politicians seen relying more on online campaigning.

A number are also using social media bots for campaigning and engagement with followers.

Zimbabwe has an internet penetration rate of about 50% with most people accessing the internet through mobile gadgets. Mobile data accounts for about 90% of internet access while Facebook and WhatsApp are the most popular internet applications accessed.

According to experts, data usage surged ahead more than ever before during the coup which ousted former president Mugabe last year in November.