As Data Costs Sours In Zimbabwe, The Elephant In The Room is RTGS value

The cost of mobile data in Zimbabwe continues to be the subject of much public scrutiny, with latest reports claiming that the country has the highest data tariffs in the SADC region at an average price of $75.20 for 1GB.

However, while those numbers are enough to send consumers in a frenzy calling for reduction in the cost of mobile data, the methodology behind them doesn’t necessarily paint the full picture.

Firstly, the claimed cost of data only accounts for out-of-bundle tariffs – the normal cost based tariff that subscribers are charged when they use actual airtime to access the internet.

In reality, the prevalence of data plans across all the major Mobile Network Operators, make instances where consumers use actual airtime for internet access a rarity.
The popularity of such data plans also speaks volumes as far as access is concerned, specifically because daily bundles are the cheapest mobile internet solution for the majority of Zimbabweans.

In addition, the unstable exchange rate of the RTGS dollar and the US dollar also has a negative bearing on mobile data prices.

Even then, research conducted by the Communication Regulators Association of Southern Africa shows Botswana recording the highest data tariffs per megabyte charging US$93, followed by Eswatini charging US$56 per 1000MB while Zimbabwe charges on average US$20 per 1000MB.

This objectively affirms that the cost of mobile data is Zimbabwe is comparatively amongst the lowest in the region in US$ terms, a testament to efforts by MNOs to make connectivity more accessible for all.

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