Telecoms Tariff Increases Loom

An increase in tariffs in the telecommunications sector is expected shortly due to the rise in operational costs for telecoms operators, a development which is likely to worsen consumer blues, 263Chat Business has learnt.

In an interview on the sidelines of the Consumer Satisfaction Survey Report launched by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) yesterday, POTRAZ director General, Gift Machengete said the regulator is going to review the tariffs in line with the interbank market rates basing on telecoms companies’ operational costs.

“They do (interbank rates) affect, because we actually took that into consideration when we approved the tariffs that we approved. We considered  the interbank rate at that particular time and it was around 3.5 and now it’s at 5.6. That is being looked into. We are looking into that. This is a volatile situation, today it might be 5.2, and tomorrow its 6.2 and maybe it goes down. It’s not an event, it’s a process so you look at the trend, what is the trend as we go forward, we then make some interventions looking  the trend,” Machengete said.

This comes at a time telecoms operators are pressing for a tariff review citing an increase in operational costs.

So far the regulator has disapproved the tariff suggestions submitted to them by operators, saying they were excessive.

Earlier in the year, POTRAZ approved a new tariff regime that came into effect on April 1.

The new tariff regime saw voice calls for Econet Wireless fixed at RTGS$ 0.2157 per minute, Telecel charging RTGS $ 0.22 per minute and NetOne charging RTGS $ 0.2199 per minute.

But owing to depreciating RTGS value and an increase in exchange rates on the interbank market, Machengete said although a review is highly possible, it will however be reviewed in tandem with its cost-based model, otherwise excessive suggestions by operators will not be approved, as it was in the past.

“Pressure is always there but for us we use a cost based model, so we look at the cost and we have looked at the cost and we allowed them (operators) to increase to the level of their costs and not above that. So what they had asked for, we didn’t approve,” he said.

POTRAZ is currently spearheading the infrastructure sharing project among the three mobile service providers in a bid to restrain the cost of operations and ultimately offer lower tariffs to the consumers.