As you may know, ZOL recently announced that they would be “aligning” prices due to the monetary policy. Though ZOL may call it an alignment, to consumers this is an increase as most salaries have not been “aligned” since the monetary policy was announced.
The Director-General of POTRAZ Dr Gift Machengete recently commented on the issue saying that they had not given the go-ahead for this switch since they don’t regulate ZOL:
They did not get that from Potraz. In fact, we do not regulate Zol. But we do regulate Liquid and also saw that (increases in tariffs) so we are now going to find out from Liquid what this is all about. I was not in office and I am going to the office right now and will be finding out from Liquid … but we did not give them that permission.
But right now, because I have not engaged Liquid, it might be premature to comment any further. Maybe after engaging Liquid, which I am going to be doing this afternoon, I can comment further.
ZOL not regulated by POTRAZ?
It may come as a surprise to you that ZOL isn’t regulated by POTRAZ and that is in fact true. POTRAZ does not regulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs). They regulate Internet Access Providers (IAPs), which is why the Director-General insisted that they would be talking to Liquid Telecom. Liquid Telecom is an Access Provider and thus they are regulated by POTRAZ. Because Liquid Telecom owns ZOL, POTRAZ could see this as an attempt by Liquid to make more money without having to apply for a tariffs increase like they would if they approached POTRAZ in their own capacity.
This is an interesting point to emphasise because that could also be a reason why TelOne has maintained pricing throughout the economic turmoil that has been prevailing. TelOne is an IAP and they can’t just change their prices without seeking approval from POTRAZ. TelOne did revise their packages, keeping prices the same but changing the data offerings, which could count as price adjustment but that didn’t really garner the same reaction as the changes appeared reasonable to consumers.
What can POTRAZ do?
ZOL has raised prices three times in less than a year now and all along POTRAZ hadn’t reacted (as far as we know). Whether the dialogue that the Director-General will be having with Liquid Telecoms will have an impact on the pricing is another thing, the question is what can POTRAZ actually do when they don’t regulate ZOL? Yes, Liquid Telecoms owns ZOL but it doesn’t seem as though any of these companies has done something unlawful. Liquid hasn’t raised prices without consulting the regulator but their subsidiary which has done so doesn’t answer to the same regulator.
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