By Arron Nyamayaro and Wadzanai Madhibha
An increase in mobile data bundles recently was a result of the expiry of a promotion that was being run by mobile operators, the Director General of the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe has said.
Dr Gift Machengete said this in his submissions before the ICT Parliamentary Portfolio Committee yesterday where he said Zimbabwe’s tariffs were not the most expensive in the world.
“Zimbabwe is not charging more than others, we are comparable with other countries in the region or we are not the most expensive in the world; that is not true,” said Dr Machengete.
“The only problem here is that of affordability, do our people really afford that considering that the salaries have not gone up?
“Mobile operators have been running promotions that saw a decrease in the data bundles and they have since removed it leaving their clients believing that they have increased the data bundles.
“In the region when we compare with other countries like South Africa right now, in terms of US dollars and we change their currency to United States dollars they are charging 1c per mb, Lesotho 2c, Malawi 4c, Eswatini 5c, Botswana 9c, Mozambique 13c and our Zimbabwe is 2c per mb.
“So as a country we are comparable to other countries and those saying we are on top of other countries are not being honest,” said Dr Machengete.
He said that there was an overall growth in annual operating costs by the fixed and mobile networks save for NetOne.
Profit data for 2017 for the fixed and mobile operators, based on their audited financials were that Econet after tax was $132.3million, TelOne $7million, NetOne of $57 million according to statements in 2017 and Telecel $18.2million in 2018.
Econet was the only profitable operator and profit information for 2018 is not yet available as the operators are currently working on their audited financial reports.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee questioned POTRAZ over increase on data bundles when Econet made a profit of $475,714,268 when others made a loss saying they were failing to protect customers from being ripped off their hard earned money.
Dr Machengete said the apportionment of costs per product is based on use of network elements and traffic using the Long Run Incremental Cost (LRIC) cost models and Potraz cannot penalise a service provider because of making its profit.
“Operators have strived to invest in their networks despite challenges of accessing foreign currency as well as cheap international financing.
“There was an overall decline in annual sector investments in 2018,” said Dr Machengete. H Metro