Zimbabwe now ranks 3rd amongst the lowest priced data tariffs in Africa, but unfortunately millions can no longer afford this service due to the weakening value of the local currency against other countries.
Our national buying power has greatly decreased as service providers battle to stay afloat, increasing the price in domestic currency, while comparatively against other countries, our tariffs have actually fallen.
Zimbabwe only trails behind Malawi and Nigeria in data which is charging $0,0041 and $0.0028 for a Megabyte in USD price. All other African countries are actually charging way much more as shown in the diagram below;
In a survey done by TechnoMag, most households said they can no longer afford to continuously maintain their topping up habits due to pressure to sustain bread and butter issues, with a gig of data now costing an equivalent of 3 loaves, dropping on a priority list.
Salaries and wages for most employees have remained stagnant with most employees receiving less than a 100% increase since the beginning of the year however, the prices of commodities have continued to rise against inflationary pressure, which is now more than 500%.
While most people may have complained that Zimbabwe data tariffs have soared, it is sadly untrue when we look at it from a business perspective, who initially were charging in actual USD prices before policy shift.
Our prices in the USD era were fair and many people were also earning an equivalent USD value they could afford to pay for these services using the hard currency.
The same can be said for the service providers who in most cases were actually charging less during the 1:1 dispensation, and could easily convert at the face value.
The major policy shift that stopped recognizing the 1:1 effect meant that business was going to lose value and had to recuperate at the current rates, which caused a major pricing distortion in the market.
The RTGS currency has continued to drop, forcing every commodity that is imported to be restructured in actual USD pricing, seeing products like fuel having weekly pricings, but when fuel price increases, this has a line effect of increasing the means of production to the final product or service.
These are the real pressures that are driving costs to the communication sector. Data is imported at a certain cost to land in Zimbabwe, and if we are still to have connectivity, these costs are unfortunately inevitable.