You know the drill by now. Inflation is somehow still getting worse and the ZW$ is crashing even faster. That means companies have to constantly adjust their prices otherwise they won’t be able to break even. Econet is doing just that on Wednesday.
Econet Wireless announced via their social media accounts that voice, data and SMS tariffs are going up. They have since sent text messages to their customers to that effect and you should have received one by now.
Their regulator, the Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) signed off on the new prices and here’s what you will be paying, starting on Wednesday the 13th of July.
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Dear Valued Customers,
Please note the following tariffs as per regulatory approval, effective Wednesday 13, July 2022.
Voice – ZWL$0.2686 per second
Data – ZWL$2.5522 per MB
SMS – ZWL$3.3137 per SMS
To access Voice & Data bundles dial *143#
To access the SMS Bundles, dial *140#
Visit www.econet.co.zw/services/tariffs for more information
—All prices are inclusive of taxes.
Tariffs adjustment necessary?
While absolutely no one appreciates price increases, this new round of tariff adjustments was long overdue. The Zimdollar has completely crashed since the last Econet price adjustments in May 2022.
Honestly, it is good for us customers that prices were not reviewed for 2 whole months in an economy with inflation in the 100s, but it can’t be good for these companies we love or love to hate.
It was last year in August when Econet called for tariff increases using the following argument:
Our headline tariffs were last reviewed in August 2020. Given the inflationary pressures experienced, we believe that another tariff review is due in order for the sector to remain viable. All our pricing is determined by the regulator using given cost inputs. The timely adjustment of tariffs, using the Telecommunications Pricing Index, is critical to our continued viability as a business.James Myers , Econet Chairman via New Zimbabwe
Seeing as ‘inflationary pressures’ only increased since then, we really should expect more frequent price adjustments. You also may have noticed that power cuts have been getting worse lately. That right there means crazy operational costs for companies like Econet who have to run generators for their base stations.
New tariffs fair?
Dare I say the new prices are fair? I am not immune to the prevailing ‘economic condition’ and am struggling like everyone else. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t tell a fair deal from a bad one.
Check this out:
Econet to Econet voice calls – ZW$16.12 per minute. Even at the auction rate, that means US$1 can get you around 25 minutes. Am I the only one who remembers US$1 being good for only 3-5 minutes? Think of it this way, the same $700 that fetches a loaf of bread can buy over 43 minutes of talk time.
That sounds strange and I feel like I’m missing something here. Let me know if I’m tripping. The math seems to work out, if a minute costs $16.12, then ten minutes cost $161.20. That’s cheap.
There’s a difference between something being expensive and you not being able to afford it. If someone sells their Northern suburb mansion for US$100,000 that would be cheap, even if I can’t afford it. Anyway…
Econet to others calls will be increased to ZW$15.58 per minute. Even less than the on-net Econet calls. When did this become a thing?
Local SMSes will cost ZW$3.31 each. To my non-texting mind that sounds reasonable. Of course, keeping in mind that SMS has always been too expensive for what it delivers.
The data costs are high though
The out of bundle price will be ZW$2.55 per MB. That translates to ZW$2611.20 per GB. That’s on the high side. Even if you get your ZW$ by burning USDs on the black market, that means you would be paying US$4.35 per GB.
The out of bundle data prices have always been high and are always a bad deal. You cannot afford to browse that way, make sure you buy a bundle. We don’t know what’s going to happen to bundle prices so we’ll reserve judgement for when that happens.
When asked on whether the new tariffs affect the Private WiFi bundles many have come to rely on, Econet said they will unveil any changes on Wednesday. So, we will see what happens to the data bundles. Hopefully they will get the same treatment that voice and SMS got
This is not sustainable
The government, through POTRAZ, could compromise Econet, NetOne and Telecel’s viability by not adjusting tariffs regularly and setting low price ceilings. Making it cheaper for all of us struggling Zimbabweans to stay in touch and run our businesses.
Or they could allow these MNOs to charge true market prices, leading to better viability. That would be at the expense of the citizens, who are struggling enough even without unreachable communication costs.
There is a third option though. Instead of the government being the ‘good guy’ by strongarming MNOs to give out 43 minutes for a dollar, they could instead take on the hit themselves. Why should these private companies bear the burden of easing Zimbabweans’ lives when the government isn’t willing to do so itself?
The government should adjust its tax regime in times like these, if indeed they are committed to ensuring low communication costs. They can’t demand their taxes whilst at the same time demanding these companies price so low. (I know that the loss in tax revenue would have its own problems.)
We indeed could still pay US$1 for 43 minutes and yet have Econet and friends thrive if the govt forwent its cut. Will they do this? No. Will they continue strongarming private companies and promising affordable prices to the populace? Yes.
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