By Bridget Mananavire
Government’s directive compelling mobile telephone network operators to increase prices for Internet access was prompted by a loss of $4 million in taxes in 10 months, ICT minister Supa Mandiwanzira said yesterday.
The Nyanga South legislator told Parliament that all actions were meant to protect the operators, viability of the telecoms industry so that they could retain jobs, and that investors and shareholders would be able to recoup their investment.
“There was evidence that the entire sector was bleeding as a result of the over-the-top (OTT) services. In June 2015 to April 2016, mobile operators lost 186 million minutes of voice calls and those minutes had been lost to OTT services, to Skype, WhatsApp calling and the like,” Mandiwanzira said.
“The potential monetary loss to mobile operators for those minutes for the period that I have specified is $26 million and the loss to Potraz in revenue, $139 000, and the loss to treasury through taxes was $4 million,” he said, adding “the biggest loser were the networks themselves”.
The former journalist later ordered a reversal of the tariffs after a public outcry.
According to a 2016 third quarter report by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, total voice traffic declined by 3,6 percent from the previous quarter, while mobile data utilisation increased by 16,1 percent over the same period.