Data Tariffs in Zimbabwe Skyrocket

Data Tariffs in Zimbabwe Skyrocket
Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) set new minimum prices for voice and data services applicable to all mobile network operators in Zimbabwe effective yesterday. The floor prices were outlined in the press release from POTRAZ . The cost most people in Zimbabwe will be concerned with is not necessarily the voice call minimum but rather the 2cents per MB for data as this will impact internet surfing and bundles like Facebook and Whatsapp that have become extremely popular with almost everyone.

According to POTRAZ, the move was initiated to protect mobile operators’ revenues. All mobile operators operating in Zimbabwe are expected to adjust their pricing to be in line with the new regulations that became effective today.

Yesterday, Econet led the way by releasing their new data tariffs that have not been received well by the general public because they are much higher than what most had become used to. This move surely will mean fewer people will afford data packages in a Zimbabwean economy already facing stiff cash shortages. It will be interesting to see how the other mobile operators will respond in light of the social media outcry by customers across the country on the unaffordable new prices set by Econet.

Based on the new Econet data prices, the cheapest data bundle (5MB mobile data + 5MB bonus WiFi data) now costs 50 cents. The most expensive data bundle (2500MB mobile data + 2500MB bonus WiFi data) now cost $50. The smallest Social Lite Facebook and Whatsapp data bundle (10MB mobile data + 10MB bonus WiFi data) costs 50cents while the most expensive Social Heavy Facebook and Whatsapp bundle (600MB mobile data + 600MB bonus WiFi data) costs $12. All packages are valid for a month but obviously most of the packages will now last more than a day.

It will be interesting to observe whether the impact of this new regulation by POTRAZ has ripple effects on the economy; more people were warming up to online transactions and the idea of mobile/virtual money. Will online businesses suffer due to potentially fewer people getting online using mobile phones. A lot of companies had taken to advertising on platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp because of the more affordable data bundles. The pricier packages most likely will result in fewer people using those platforms and therefore impact the effectiveness of those advertising platforms.

Another important note is that the government has introduced e-learning in schools in it’s new curriculum. This move has the potential to adversely affect the effectiveness of the new progressive curriculum.

Much speculation but it’s just a matter of time before we see the actual impacts on usage and ultimately business activity and the economy.

What are your thoughts on this move by POTRAZ and the new tariffs by Econet?

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Hazel Nherudzo Samantha Mafu