By William Kumwembe:
The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has reiterated its commitment to promote access to cheap mobile communication services in the country.
In 2017, Macra developed a Cost Models and Pricing Frameworks for Wholesale and Retail Telecommunications Services which established the cost of fixed and mobile voice as well as internet data services.
Since adoption of the cost models, the authority has implemented reduction of interconnection rate—charges a telecommunications operator charges to another — which has seen operators reducing prices of telecommunication services and products.
Figures from Macra show that TNM has reduced its on-net calls cost from K82.80 per minute in 2017 to K72 per minute in 2019 and from K91.80 per minute to K80 per minute for off-net calls.
Airtel has maintained its on-net rates at K72 per minute since 2018 and has reduced its off-net rates from K93 per minute to K80 per minute in 2019.
Access Communications has reduced its rates from K72 per minute in 2017 to current K60 per minute across all networks.
MTL (mostly fixed lines) has reduced from K70.20 per minute in 2017 to recent K30 per minute for on-net calls and from K90 per minute to K39.10 per minute recently for off-net calls.
Macra Communications Manager, Clara Mwafulirwa, said the Authority would continue monitoring quality of services offered to ensure that consumers are satisfied.
“This goes hand-in-hand with the amount of money consumers are paying,” Mwafulirwa said.
She said cost of internet has also been on a downward spiral in the past two years which is a step towards increasing penetration rate.
TNM, for instance, reduced its PAYG from K30 per MB to K27 per MB in 2018 and has further reduced it to K25 per MB in February 2019, representing approximately 20 percent reduction.
Airtel has recently reduced its PAYG from K31.50 per MB to K15 MB, representing a 52 percent reduction.
Access Communications has maintained a K5 per MB charge for its internet data since 2017.
MTL is offering a minimum of K5 per MB for its internet data with an out of bundle rate of about K100 per MB.
Mwafulirwa said the Authority was continuously engaging the operators on the same as well as monitoring data usage, which is a major source of complaints among consumers.
“Furthermore, the authority is implementing a Sadc Roam Like At Home initiative aimed at making roaming affordable to travelers across the region,” Mwafulirwa said.
Several studies point that Malawi has one of the highest rates of mobile tariffs in the world.