Oliver Kazunga, Senior Reporter
MOBILE Network Operators (MNOs) have slashed mobile data tariffs from 12,5 cents to five cents per megabyte in compliance with a Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe directive.
Last month, Government through the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) directed the operators to reduce data tariffs by more than 60 percent to promote social media usage and electronic payments.
The regulatory authority also reduced Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) charges to promote e-payments.
Potraz said the reduction in data charges was made following a pricing model review that saw it engaging a Germany consultancy company Detecon.
In separate public notices yesterday, Econet and NetOne indicated compliance to a data tariff reduction directive with effect from July 1, 2018.
“Please be advised that we are effecting the following changes to our tariff: Data tariff per MB 0.0500 excluding taxes and 0,0635 including USF, Value Added Tax and duty. USSD charge of 0,0500 excluding taxes and 0,0635 including USF, VAT and duty,” reads the Econet notice.
In a separate notice, the State-owned telecommunications company, NetOne, said it was complying with the Potraz order as it was striving to remain committed to making it easier and more affordable for the public to chat, surf and connect.
It indicated that its data (out of bundle) per MB excluding taxes were 0,05, and 0,06 including taxes. USSD per session was being charged at 0,05 excluding taxes and 0,06 including taxes. The mobile network operator’s interconnect per minute was now 0,02 excluding taxes and 0,02 including taxes.
Telecel Zimbabwe wrote on its website: “We have reduced our out of bundle data rates to 5c/MB excluding taxes effective July 1, 2018 enabling you to do so much more with your data for much less.”
Potraz has said the charges were reviewed to meet changing consumer patterns from being voice-centric to data-centric.
Voice and SMS communications charges were yet to be reviewed but the national interconnection rate shall be reduced from the current four cents per minute to two cents per minute exclusive of all the taxes.
The telecommunications regulator said the outcome of the bundle mobile data per MB had been reduced and this applied to Internet/data that was used outside the WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter bundles among others.
The downward review of internet charges confirms Government’s position that it will not curtail internet usage ahead of the country’s elections.
Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security Minister Supa Mandiwanzira is on record as saying his ministry was working hard to ensure Internet was accessible to every Zimbabwean. Government believes that the reduction of USSD charges was critical as the country has turned to be a cashless economy where transactions were largely done electronically.
Due to the prevailing cash shortages, official data from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning shows that plastic money transactions recently increased to 96 percent.