By Alois Vinga
THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ), has hinted that a data tariff hike could be on the way in order to cushion telecommunication companies from the increasing exchange rate on the Interbank market.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com Business recently, POTRAZ director general, Gift Machengete admitted that mobile telephone operating companies continue to pile pressure for possible tariff increases.
“Rates on the Interbank market affects the costs and they were taken into consideration when the tariffs were increased. It was around 3.5 and the current shifts which have seen the rates going higher than five times are being looked into though there are no specific timelines to determine the outcomes,” Machengete said.
Machenegete indicated companies may be allowed to increase tariffs using a cost based model, in which the shift in prices will only meet their costs and not beyond.
Last month Machengete appearing before a parliamentary committee dismissed claims that internet data and call tariffs are too high in Zimbabwe when compared to regional averages arguing the country’s prices compete fairly with other players in neighbouring countries.
“For example South Africa is at US$0.01cents per megabyte (MB) which translates to US$11 per 1GB, Lesotho is at $0.02 per MB, Malawi at US$0.04 per MB, Eswathini at US$0.05 per MB, Botswana US$0.9 per MB, Mozambique is the most expensive at US$013 per MB and Zimbabwe is at US$0.02 per MB,” he said then.
Most mobile telecoms companies increased call tariffs to $0.21 cents ($0.21257) per minute, up from around $0.16 cents while per-second charges now stand at $0.0036 cents which came into effect at the beginning of April.
However business experts contend that the continuous pressure to increase prices are being triggered by government’s move to abandon the 1:1 exchange rate between the US dollar and the local bond note to a more flexible rate as determined by the newly introduced interbank currency facility.