The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has approved an upward 95,39 percent voice, data and SMS tariff adjustment for both mobile and fixed network operators as previous tariffs were ravaged by inflationary pressures.
According to Potraz, in a circular to operators, previous tariffs that were set in August 2019 have been rendered “unsustainable” as the operating environment has further deteriorated due to inflationary pressures.
Inflation pressures were elevated in the first half of the year reaching 175,66 percent (year-on-year) and 39,3 percent (month-on-month) in June 2019.
While year-on-year figures are no longer being published, the month-on-month inflation has slowed to 17,7 percent as of September 2019.
“Accordingly, the authority has found it necessary to review tariff thresholds for telecommunication services by 95,39 percent based on the Telecommunication Price Index (TPI) that was computed in consultation with all operators.
“In view of the foregoing, and guided by the Act, all public switched and mobile operators may adjust their tariffs in line with the above thresholds for approval by the Authority,” reads Protraz’s circular number 4 of 2019.
Following the approval, the country’s three mobile network operators Econet Wireless, Telecel, and NetOne reviewed upwards their voice, data, and SMS tariffs.
Econet has increased its voice tariff with 98 percent to $0,963 per minute from $0,486 per minute in August, while data and SMS prices have gone up to $0,1926 per MB and $0,2440 per SMS respectively.
Telecel’s voice, data and SMS tariffs are now $0,95 per minute for Telecel to Telecel, $0,92 per minute for Telecel to other networks, $0,19 per MB and $0,24 per SMS.
NetOne $0,95 per minute for NetOne to NetOne, $0,92 per minute for Netone and other local networks, $0,19 data and SMS are now $0,24.
Meanwhile, NetOne’s tariffs increased to $0,95 per minute for NetOne to NetOne, $0,92 per minute for NetOne and other local networks, $0,19 data and $0,24 for SMS in compliance with the regulator.
NetOne marketing communications executive director Dr. Eldrette Shereni said the new tariffs were “in compliance with Potraz regulated tariffs as per the circular 4 of 2019.”
The new tariff comes at a time most businesses are grappling with the increased cost of doing business and will also come as a shock to constrained consumers who were already battling with an increased cost of living.
The cost of energy, both electricity, and fuel, has a huge bearing on the operations of telecom operators as it is used to power base stations.
Fuel went up by approximately 12 percent on Monday this week while the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) early this month approved a 320 percent electricity tariff increase to 162,16 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to help Zesa improve power supply.
The country’s statistics agency (Zimstat) recently released data showing that the Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) for an average of five persons per household stood at $2 192,00 in September 2019.
The poverty datum line (PDL) represents the cost of a given standard of living that must be attained if a person is deemed not to be poor.