THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has blocked mobile service providers from adjusting tariffs in United States dollars.
Potraz recently approved new tariff thresholds in local currency owing to the depreciation of the Zimdollar, but said the United States dollar (US$) was stable.
Service providers who defy Potraz directive will be fined.
“The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe recently approved new tariff thresholds for telecommunication services,” Potraz director-general Gift Machengete said in a statement.
“The new tariff thresholds are applicable to services denominated in Zimdollar, which is the currency to which all tariffs for telecommunication services are pegged.”
He said service packages denominated in US dollars would not be adjusted because the foreign currency had remained relatively stable.
“Accordingly, any service providers who adjust their US$ denominated service packages will be charging unapproved tariffs and will be liable to a fine. All such violations of licence conditions should be reported to Potraz for immediate action,” he said.
According to Potraz, the recent review of tariff thresholds for telecommunication services was triggered by the steep depreciation of the Zimdollar of 738,75% against the US dollar from an exchange rate of 1:684,33 in December 2022 to 1:5 739,80 in June 2023.
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The recent tariffs hike triggered an outcry among Zimbabweans, who said the data charges were not affordable.
But Machengete said Zimbabwe had the cheapest data tariffs in the region.
“Finally, we continue to come across posts purporting to draw evidence from a UK [United Kingdom] website, that Zimbabwe has the most expensive data tariff in the world at US$43,75 per gigabyte (GB),” Machengete said.
“We reiterate that this is not only false, but misleading and malicious. As a matter of fact, and contrary to that report, Zimbabwe has the lowest data tariff in the Sadc region, with an out of bundle tariff of ZWL$14 930, which translates to US$3,21 per GB at the September 2023 official exchange rate, while the Sadc average is US$4,60.”
He encouraged the public to seek clarification from Potraz if in doubt.