Consumers cry foul over data prices

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CONSUMERS have raised concern over the high data prices in Zimbabwe saying most people including the working class can no longer afford to buy data bundles that can cover their research and communication needs.

Of late, all telecommunications service providers in the country have continued to increase the cost of data every month.

This has seen Zimbabwe being listed among regional countries with the most expensive data.

Consumer Rights Association spokesperson Mr Effie Ncube said data was no longer accessible by a majority of consumers including the working class.

He said his organisation continues to lobby the Government and relevant authorities to look at data prices.

“The data prices are exorbitant and unaffordable even by the working class in Zimbabwe, and we have frequently called on the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) and the Government to look into the cost structure of data with a view to making sure it is affordable to the rest of the population in the country,” said Mr Ncube.

“Given the centrality of data in driving business, research in education, health care and in every facet of life, it will be important for the Government to strictly regulate the cost of data and voice calls otherwise communication will be rendered impossible for all the people in the country.”

In South Africa, he said, that country’s competitions commission recently intervened and ordered service providers to reduce their data prices by 50 percent margins, adding that locally they also want the Competition and Tariff Commission to take a similar approach.

In separate interviews, some consumers told Business Chronicle that they were unable to buy data as it is expensive and even if they afford, it will be too low to complete their services.

A student from the National University of Science and Technology who declined to be named said:

“It’s now difficult to buy data, so I’m forced to go to the campus each time I do my research and that also costs me on transport.”

Another consumer, Mr Nicolas Sithole, said he has abandoned social media platforms like WhatsApp as he no longer affords to spend $15 per week on data.

“I cannot afford the $15 WhatsApp weekly data bundle, even the cheaper one which goes for $8, it does not even last a week. Now for my Internet needs, I survive by scouting free internet spots in the Central Business District,” he said.

Early this year, Zimbabwe was reported to have the most expensive data in the world with a gigabyte averaging $75,20, which was 289 more times as much as in India.

However, Internet service providers have in the past cried foul over the operational costs they were incurring when using generators to power boosters in times of load shedding saying this has contributed to incessant increases in data costs. —chroncile.co.zw

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