The last time such hikes occurred it was quite steep but people slowly adapted. It’s been a while and hikes had become a recurring feature for prices of fuel and other basic goods and services. The wave of prices hikes has now hit the mobile tariffs turf with data and call tariffs now up again. This is a move which shall see even less activity on the calls and data front as more and more people cannot afford. The recent mobile tariffs hikes have come after approval from Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).
On the 8th of August Potraz issued a circular on tariff adjustments for mobile and fixed switched network operators. Remember that I had mentioned that it had been awhile since we last experienced steep tariff hikes. The circular cited that the previous tariff adjustments had been done in April earlier this year. The basis for that move had been the interbank exchange rates, cost surges and fuel price hikes. All these had pushed inflation upwards thus necessitating the need to adjust tariffs to promote sustainability.
Let me just do a summary of the new proposed tariffs for the different categories. I’m just mentioning those proposed tariffs without taxes. On-net and off-net calls will be costing ZWL$0.384 and ZWL$0.261 per minute respectively. Interconnection per minute will now be ZWL$0.110. SMS and USSD per minute will be ZWL$0.097 both. Mobile data per megabyte becomes ZWL$0.079 per megabyte. Mobile international call origination per minute is now ZWL$0.280. Fixed net on-net calls have been pegged at ZWL$0.241 per minute. Fixed national call origination per minute becomes ZWL$0.1721. Lastly, ZWL$0.1768 is the new proposed tariff for fixed international call origination per minute. All public switched mobile and fixed operators were advised to adjust their tariffs accordingly. Again Potraz highlighted that this development has been necessitated by exchange rate movements and fuel price hikes.
Adjusted Tariffs For Some Mobile And Fixed Switched Network Operators
Econet was amongst the first to adjust their tariffs. They actually sent out a message in advance informing subscribers that they would be reviewing prices for data and SMS effective 9 August. They also issued a notice informing subscribers that voice tariffs has been reviewed to ZWL$0.0081 per second effective 9 August. Earlier they had reviewed international dialling tariffs effective 31 July. If you’re an Econet subscriber you’ll now pay ZWL$18 to get a 2-gigabyte daily bundle. As for weekly bundles you now pay ZWL$30 for 700 megabytes. To get the biggest monthly data bundle of 3.1 gigabytes you need to pay ZWL$150.
NetOne also followed suit by reviewing its tariffs upwards. Many people had sought relief from NetOne’s ZWL$1 1 gigabyte night bundle. That same 1-gigabyte night bundle has been adjusted to ZWL$3. Econet doesn’t have a similar package to that one. A 2 gigabytes daily data bundle has been pegged at ZWL$10 (which is way cheaper than Econet’s which costs ZWL$18). NetOne has 7 options to choose from for its weekly data bundles packages. For instance, for ZWL$20, ZWL$35 and ZWL$60 you get 520 megabytes, 1 gigabyte and 2 gigabytes respectively. The biggest monthly data bundle for NetOne is 5 gigabytes for ZWL$150 (which is way better than Econet where you get 3.1 gigabytes for the same amount). Overall, NetOne is offering much better packages.
TelOne has also adjusted its internet data tariffs. The Home Basic package of 10 gigabytes has been reviewed to ZWL$58.50 whilst the 30 gigabytes Home Plus and 60 gigabytes Home Premier are now at ZWL$97.50 and ZW$L164 respectively. The unlimited intense package is pegged at ZWL$468; all these adjustments became effective on the 9th of August.
Most of the reactions on social media have shown that people were somehow bracing for these tariff hikes. Given the prevailing situation in the country, it was only a matter of time for the inevitable to happen. It’s no fallacy that exchange rate movements and fuel price hikes are the biggest causes of such upward reviews of tariffs. That being said we can rest assured that we haven’t seen the last of mobile and fixed telecoms tariff hikes. The country is locked in a perpetual cycle of prices hikes (especially fuel); for as long as that’s the case then the storm isn’t over yet. The situation is unfortunate for most Zimbabweans due to their meagre incomes. Suppose someone earns ZWL$400 per month surely it’s now a tall order for them to call or be online.