Enacy Mapakame Business Reporter
Zimbabwe has some of the lowest mobile data tariffs in the region, figures from the Communication Regulators Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) country report for 2018 show.
According to the CRASA the price of 1 gigabyte (GB) of out of bundle mobile data in Zimbabwe is among the lowest in the region, at US$20, including taxes, while the most expensive is Mozambique, at US$130.
It costs US$93 for 1GB of mobile data in Botswana while the price in the Kingdom of Eswatini is pegged at US$56.
The CRASA report also shows customers fork out US$88 in Zambia for the same data bundle while Namibia, Malawi and Lesotho the tariff charge is pegged at US$63, US$43 and US$22 in that order.
South Africa is the lowest at US$11.
This is contrary to some report purporting to be profiling the cost of data across the African continent, which suggests that Zimbabwe has the most expensive mobile data tariffs and this also relies on information captured from UK website.
Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general Dr Gift Machengete said the article on Zimbabwean data tariffs was misleading.
“The authority would like to put it on record that it is a misrepresentation of the Zimbabwe situation even during the period it was published, and as such, it should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.
“The authority would therefore like to put it on record that the mobile data tariffs in Zimbabwe are comparable to those obtaining in other Sadc countries. As can be observed, the current price of 1GB of mobile data for Zimbabwe is among the lowest in the region, in United States dollar terms,” Dr Machengete said.
Statistics from (Potraz) show that Zimbabwean mobile network operators (MNOs) reviewed the out of bundle mobile data tariffs to US$0,05 cents per MB from US$0,125, excluding taxes on July 1, 2018.
The reviewed 2018 tariff translates to about US$50 for 1GB of data.
Dr Machengete said the out of bundle tariff was the normal cost based tariff that subscribers are charged when they are not accessing any data bundles.
Therefore, Dr Machengete said it was imperative to note that data bundle rates cannot go beyond the out of bundle tariffs.
In March this year, Potraz reviewed tariffs resulting in the out of bundle rate being pegged at RTGS$0,05 per MB, without taxes.
This translates to about RTGS$50 per MB. Given the movement in the exchange rate between the US dollar and the RTGS dollar, which now stands at 1US$:RTGS$3,2, the US dollar tariff for the out of bundle data now stands at US$0,016 per MB or US$15,63 for 1GB of mobile data.
About a month ago Potraz directed MNOs not to hike data costs beyond the current 5c rate, resulting in telcos reviewing the promotions they have been offering to consumers as they jostled for market share.
NetOne, which was literally offering free services as it sought to gain market share, reviewed its promotions yesterday.
Potraz has no power to block telcos from reviewing their promotions, as long as the rates are within the regulatory 5c data tariff.