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#MondayBlues: Mobile Tariff Adjustments Craze Unjustifiable, Unfair


Mobile Network Operators recently have been colluding to increase tariffs, or is it “adjust within the limits” much to the pains of consumers who are now bearing the full costs, under the guise of inflationary pressure.

While a sustainable business model must be implemented for all operators, it is rather selfish, thoughtless and a clear sign of lack of creativity for mobile networks to tweaking their tariffs every month, against a dwindling revenue base.

Mobile Networks were justified and realistically under stable last year and early this year before inflationary pressures forced operators to relook into the tariff issue for sustainability.

However, a lot has not changed since then, yet still their attitude has not changed.

We had frequent nationwide power cuts, runaway inflation and no formal forex trade markets which really pushed the costs of doing business early this year, but all these factors are no longer as threatening as there were.

While Mobile Network operators have been successfully hiding behind the RTGS market value of the Zimbabwe dollar to adjust their tariffs, one wonders why are they not also adjusting their tariffs downwards in response to the latest forex auction results.

The two previous auction results witnessed a marginal gain on the local currency against the United States Dollar.

If the RTGS dollar value is truly a major influencer of Zimbabwe tariffs we must have seen a slight decline after the previous auctions.

But unfortunately, the opposite is true.

Tariffs were once again adjusted upwards, burdening already struggling service consumers.

While all these tariff adjustments are happening, it would be interesting to note that all the players somehow, agree on a certain week to announce their new rates, although ordinarily they are competitors, they have successfully done this together in many instances.

This has led many consumers to think that they are adjusting to nationwide new tariffs, yet in fact these are not POTRAZ sanctioned adjustments, but a mere understanding within the service providers, to routinely adjust to “better rates” within the stipulated maximum tariffs.

Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), the regulator of tariffs has approved the mobile network operators to charge these tariffs in their last circular 4 of 2020.

The current tariffs Zimbabweans are complaining about are not above the approved rates, neither are they the ceiling rates under the schedule.

There is actually room for another increment within the same approved rates, meaning that they have a long rope.

But instead they choose to give consumers lower bands to suite their competitive agendas, with all the power to adjust as and when they deem necessary.

This issue of continuous tariff tweaking is just but a sign of lack of creativity within the industry.

There is no sustainable business model or product development to counter a volatile market except monthly tariff tweaks.

Something must be done to have both the business at mind and the consumers at heart, so that we do not always extend the costs to the poor Zimbabweans who are already struggling to meet the daily basics.

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