The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee touched on the issue of expensive data recently, arguing that the rising cost of data is going to affect school pupils as schools cannot afford to pay for internet access despite efforts to incorporate ICT into their curriculum.
The argument presented by MP Carlton Hwende was rebuffed by POTRAZ Director-General Dr Gift Machenge who explained that current prices even after going up are still lagging behind what they should be:
It is true that the cost of data has gone up, but tariffs in Zimbabwe have remained low as compared to other countries.
As POTRAZ we have also considered the costs of the operator first so that they keep on running and after that we have been tracking the cost of data before we come up with the tariffs. We do not just put up tariffs.
For a long time, POTRAZ has been trying to explain to consumers that the pricing of data is informed by the costs telecoms companies incur when running their business. Unfortunately, consumers are not too concerned with how the data gets to them. What consumers know is they can’t afford the service and that’s why there is all this complaining.
Whilst MNOs would like consumers to understand them, inversely consumers want the MNOs to understand them which reflects a bigger problem outside of the control of both parties – a depressed economy where everyone (both companies and consumers) find it hard to deliver and consume services.
Ministry of ICT Perm Sec. Engineer Kundishora also chimed in explaining that the geographical location of Zimbabwe is a factor in determining the pricing of data:
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country and that is also contributing to the costs of data.
If we want to put connections to under sea cables through another country we have to first negotiate with them so this means there is an additional cost being incurred.