Zimbabwe mobile operator Econet has significantly increased its international call tariffs as companies continue to deal with impact of a decline of the country’s RTGS$ currency, introduced in February this year.
Econet last adjusted the regional and international call tariffs in February when it fixed the cheapest regional call tariff at RTGS$1.10 per minute. It justified the increase saying it had “certain services that require direct settlement in foreign currency” which includes roaming fees, international outbound calling and SMS charges.
The latest adjustment is effective 13 June 2019 and is published on the company’s website. Local call tariffs have not been adjusted.
The most expensive destination to call from Zimbabwe, according to the new tariff schedule, is classified under Group 7 where call charges are as high as RTGS$60 per minute.
Consumers remain critical of operators over what they believe to be steep data and call tariffs.
The Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), has resisted pressure to force the tariffs down – although it is now mulling data roll over and has pushed for infrastructure sharing to relieve some of the pressure.
The government has also defended telcos, saying they have international obligations that require settlement in foreign currency, especially after the introduction of a partially liberalised foreign exchange rate regime in February.
ICT Minister Kazembe Kazembe said early this week that Zimbabwe still offers competitive telecom tariffs compared to other regional countries.
He said Potraz would enforce a ceiling on any further escalation in pricing.
Zimbabwe’s local currency has lost value from 1:1 against the US Dollar in February to the current rate of just around 1:5.3. On the parallel market, currency rates for US Dollar vs RTGS have shot up to 1:9 by Thursday morning.
Local businesses have to source foreign currency from the interbank forex market at the 1:5.3 exchange rate to settle international obligations.