Thursday, July 9, 2009

Zimbabwe Reduces Tariffs, Cost of Sim Cards

Zimbabwe's Phone operators have reduced telecommunication tariffs by a minimum 15 percent with effect from July 1.  Prices of sim cards have also gone down by about 40 percent.
Econet, the country's largest mobile operator by subscriber base, has reduced the price for sim cards from US$25 last month to US$15.  Telecel and NetOne are selling sim cards for US$20.  Before the dollarisation of the economy at the beginning of the year, sim cards used to cost as much as US$150.  Mobile tariffs now cost between US$0,20 and US$0,25 for local calls, down from around US$0,30 cents per minute.
Local short message services, commonly referred to as sms have also been reduced from US$0,12 to US$0,09 across the board while international messages now cost up to US$0,23.  International calls now cost between US$0,30 and US$8,70 depending on international grouping.
Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general Charles Sibanda said other operators had reduced tariffs with much higher percentages.  "There has been a minimum reduction of 15 percent for all categories," he said. Engineer Sibanda said they would now review tariffs more often unlike in the past when reviews were made quarterly.
"We will now review tariffs more often because of a lot of expansion programmes taking place," he said.
Information Communication Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa hailed the tariff reduction as a step in the right direction.  "We are really trying to manage the situation.  "The issue here is not only about tariff reduction but also to balance between viability (of telecommunications companies) and affordability," he said.
The cut in tariffs comes at a time when players in the sector have devised various innovative strategies of encouraging use of services to improve profitability.  NetOne, which boasts of the widest network coverage, has also introduced new services such as airtime transfer and a free "call me back" sms.
The mobile telecommunications sector has registered significant growth in the last few months with all networks releasing over 150 000 lines.  The country's total mobile subscriber base now stands close to two million, up from over one million last year.

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