Zimbabwean telecommunications companies request shift to USD tariffs

Lawrence Nkala

HARARE – Telcos in Zimbabwe have petitioned the government to allow them to peg their tariffs in US dollars rather than the local Zimbabwe dollar to protect them from hyperinflation. Although telecoms regulator POTRAZ recently approved a 50% increase in prices, operators say that the rapid depreciation of local currency during the ongoing economic crisis is not enabling them to cover their costs.

Lawrence Nkala, chairman of the Telecommunications Operators Association of Zimbabwe (TOAZ), which represents mobile network operators Econet Wireless, NetOne and Telecel, is quoted by NewsDay as saying: ‘We request that legislators urgently consider a review in the pricing model of the sector so that the prices are determined in USD and converted to Zimbabwe dollars using the prevailing interbank rate. This will introduce stability of pricing of our products and better transparency in our communication to our customers.’

As well as currency devaluation, operators are being faced with power outages of up to 18 hours a day, which is forcing them to rely on expensive back-up generators. There is also a lack of foreign currency to pay overseas suppliers, which is limiting investment in network maintenance and upgrades.

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