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Macra drafting new law on data charges

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FUDZULANI —We want to enforce ethics

There is hope that internet users would be paying less for data if a new regulation, the Communications (Type Approval) Regulation 2020, drafted by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra), becomes law.

Among other things, Section 12(2) of the proposed law stipulates that “where a consumer does not opt in or out of bundle data charges, a license shall not permit any out of bundle data usage by a consumer until such a time that a consumer purchases new data bundles…”

Section 15(1) states that “a license shall provide a consumer with an option to roll over unused data before expiry date of the bundle”.

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In an interview, Macra spokesperson Clara Ngwira said Macra was engaging stakeholders for input before submitting the draft regulation to the Ministry of Information.

“The Communications Act gives the Minister of Information powers to make regulations for the operationalisation of the Act itself.

“Regulations are in fact laws so the minister is in fact making laws to supplement the Communications Act. Parliament has delegated this law-making power to the minister. However this power can only be exercised upon Macra’s recommendation,” Ngwira said.

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In a separate interview, ICT Association of Malawi President, Bram Fudzulani, welcomed the move, rating it as a right step towards development of the ICT sector.

“Malawians took to the social media demanding that data prices must fall. The issues of data expiration and out of bundle-opt-in were among the demands that we submitted to the regulatory body.

“We hope that once signed by the minister, Malawians will feel relief, especially now that they can budget their data based on their consumption and not worry about it expiring,” Fudzulani said.

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