Zimbabwe: Econet Marginally Adjusts Bundle of Joy Tariffs

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (Econet) this week marginally adjusted its voice bundle tariffs in a bid to guarantee continued delivery of acceptable service to its customers.

The telecommunications giant, which has invested over US$1,3 billion in infrastructure since 2009, told customers in a notice that it would “review its Bundle of Joy voice bundles on Wednesday 25 November 2020”. However, the popular daily voice bundle — previously pegged at $6 or (US$0,07) for two minutes — has been reviewed upwards by only 20 percent — way below the annual inflation rate of 475.21 percent for October 2020.

The latest tariff adjustment comes at a time when the Government is banking on increased infrastructure development in the information and communication technologies (ICTs) sector to achieve its Vision 2030 targets.

“Without a robust ICT sector, it follows that the dream of an all-inclusive and economically vibrant nation remains a pipe dream,” ICT Minister Jenfan Muswere said last week, adding that it was critical that the telecommunications sector plays its part in improving Zimbabwe’s digital capabilities, especially with regards to ensuring universal access.

“Without access to ICTs, people cannot actively participate in the socio-economic development agenda of the country. Access to ICTs is therefore not a luxury and a preserve for the elite…

“We need to catch up with technology, in particular 5G, for which we need a road map and strategy, or else we remain digital laggards,” Minister Muswere said.

Analysts said for this dream to become a reality, the Government must approve cost-reflective tariffs and reduce taxes to allow telecommunication firms to continuously re-invest in their businesses and in the industry.

Economic analyst Francis Mukora said current market economic fundamentals were stifling growth in the country’s high capital-intensive telecoms industry, which constantly requires a steady flow of investments into networks, spectrum, towers and new technology.

“Contrary to the popular belief that capital injection into the telecommunications industry is a once-off investment, companies have to constantly pour in money to upgrade networks, pay software licenses, buy fibre, radio, and towers, among other things. And for the industry to survive there is need for sustainable data, voice and SMS tariffs as well as tax breaks,” he said.