Zambians grapple with mobile tariff hikes

By Edith Mwale, Lusaka, Zambia

Zambia’s mobile subscribers are grappling to come to terms with high mobile tariffs following the 5% tariff hike by operators in the country.

All the country’s three mobile operators – MTN, Airtel and Zamtel – have increased their mobile tariffs in reaction to the increase in excise duty on airtime by the Zambian government in the 2014 national budget.

The minister of Finance and National Planning Alexander Chikwanda, increased excise duty to 15% from 10% in the 2013 national budget. Zambia has just over 10 million mobile subscribers, the majority of who are struggling to make ends meet. The increase in mobile tariffs is therefore expected to impact negatively on the poor subscribers and expectedly affect operator’s profit margins.

A number of organisations, including the Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) and Chambers of Commerce and Industry, have called on the Zambian government to review the decision to increase mobile tariffs by way of reversing in increase on excise duty on airtime.

In particular, ZACA through its executive director Muyunda Ililonga has complained that “the increase in mobile tariffs by the operators does not the match the poor quality of service they provide.”

On the other hand, Kitwe District Chamber of Commerce and Industry has complained that the increase in tariffs will increase the cost of doing business in Zambia.

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