By Alois Vinga
LEADING telecommunications service provider, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited (EWZL), is set to increase its tariffs by a total of 183% through phased reviews over the next three months.
The development, which is likely to pinch already burdened customers who rely more on data services to conduct business, has won the approval of the regulator, the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ).
This also comes against the backdrop of growing inflationary pressures that have eroded the value of the local currency.
In a recent update, EWZL company secretary Charles Banda said the total increase would be spread over three equal monthly installments.
“The telecommunications sector was granted a staggered tariff adjustment by the regulator of 61% in July 2022, and a further 61% with effect from 1 September 2022, and a further 61% with effect from 1 November 2022.
“Pricing adjustments will cover voice, SMS, data and internet services and are determined in local currency,” he said.
Despite the company’s decision to swap some of its products into foreign currencies following recently required regulatory approvals, access to US dollar sales remains severely limited, creating new challenges in implementing necessary upgrades to the network to ensure the continued level of high quality service enjoyed by our customers.
To date, EWZ was the first mobile network operator to roll out 5G service in Harare towards the end of last fiscal year.
During the quarter under review, 5G service was rolled out in Bulawayo during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF 2022) and in Victoria Falls as well as Chitungwiza, bringing the total number of 5G sites deployed to 22.
The company added 100 new 4G sites to improve network and data connectivity speed.
“However, as inflation rises and disposable incomes come under increasing pressure, there is a noticeable increase in the theft of diesel, batteries and solar panels. In response, we have increased security on our sites to counter the effects of increased vandalism and theft,” Banda said.
Going forward, the group believes that a science-based, evidence-based approach to tariff setting that takes into account movements in the telecom price index, which needs to be adopted for the industry, will allow the group to remain focused on the provision of high quality digital services across the country.