HomeLocalRegulator wades into Zim data prices pricing debate

Regulator wades into Zim data prices pricing debate


ZIMBABWE’S telecommunications regulator has refuted reports that the country’s data is the most expensive in the region and in Africa.

Some social media reports recently carried a recycled report claiming that Zimbabwe’s out-of-bundle data prices were the highest in the region and on the continent.

The report alleges that Zimbabwe’s data price for one gigabyte (GB) of data was US$75, when a recent local study concluded that the highest mobile data tariff in Zimbabwe was in fact only US$9.60 for one GB of data.

However, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general Gift Machengete took the extraordinary step to dismiss the report, saying the formula used to compare the data prices was significantly flawed and “highly preposterous”.

“It is glaring that the circulating report is flawed and not reflective of the true situation on the ground,” Machengete said.

“Accordingly, this report must be dismissed with the disgust and contempt it deserves by a nation that is seeking to find its economic space in the world, through attracting investment into the country.”

Besides claiming that Zimbabwe’s data prices were more than five times expensive than they actually are, the report further claims that Zimbabwe’s data prices were higher than that of countries in the region.

It gave South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi and Eswatini’s data prices for 1 GB at US$7,19, US$2.43, US$3.59 and US$12.14 respectively.

But Machengete said the circulated infographic was outdated and inaccurate as it did not reflect the true state of affairs during 2019, when the report was purportedly first published, as well as what is now obtaining in Zimbabwe and other Sadc countries.

“Data collected from the country reports of the Communication Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) for 2019, reveals that the tariffs for mobile data that were used for comparison purposes in the deceptive study, are not in sync with charges that were obtaining in some Sadc countries in 2019,”  Machengete said.

The Potraz boss indicated that the highest price for out-of-bundle mobile data tariffs in Zimbabwe were pegged at an equivalent of US$20 in 2019, but the prices later tumbled to as little as US$15.50 since September 2020 to date.

Machengete said it was also pertinent to note that the same organisation which published the misleading information, howmuch.net, conducted another study in 2020 that excluded Zimbabwe due to confusion and problems with currency and exchange rate conversions on the part of the researchers, which did not allow for meaningful comparison.

He said this could have been the same problem that led them to give wrong prices for Zimbabwe data in their 2019 Survey.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by Potraz shows that mobile data tariffs (under the most expensive data category) in Zimbabwe are US$9.60 for 1 GB, comparatively far cheaper than  Namibia, Mozambique and Madagascar where the same data is selling for US$52.15, US$51.65 and US$50.20 respectively.

In South Africa, the most expensive data price is US$30.47, while in Botswana and Malawi the tariffs are pegged at US$32.73 and US$27.41 respectively.

Telecommunication firms in Angola, Kenya and Lesotho charge US$10.00, US$10,27 and US$10.65 respectively for the most expensive data.

Only Zambia and Tanzania have lower prices than Zimbabwe at US$6.80 and US$2.89 respectively.

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