Pressure is mounting on Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to engage mobile operators to review mobile data charges with the latest being the ICT Association of Malawi (Ictam) voicing out their concerns.
Ictam president Bram Fudzulani told Business News on Tuesday, that apart from engaging mobile operators, Macra must also address the public on feedback they received in December last year per their request pertaining to the issue through its social media pages.
“The general public responded and as Ictam, we also submitted a number of issues not only about the cost of the internet but we also questioned the rationale of the expiry of data bundles.
“We need Macra to come out and give the general public their feedback and also their findings on the matter as you are aware the issue has become very critical now with the coming of the coronavirus [Covid-19] leading to businesses moving to the Internet,” he said.
Fudzulani also said the other area they are engaging government is on taxation, emphasising that they need to review the 16.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on internet charges and 10 percent excise tax.
This week, social media has been awash with a campaign calling on local mobile operators to reduce data cost, especially this time a majority of people are working online from home.
Information Technology (IT) expert Dr. Mathews Mtumbuka explained that countries that are landlocked tend to suffer from higher Internet prices than countries on the coast like Kenya and Mozambique, among others.
“Malawi is a poor country which means that few citizens really use mobile data and they do not use much of it which means only a few people have to pay up for the cost it took Internet companies to set up the infrastructure.”
Mtumbuka said once the country’s economy jumps with more people having money and using more mobile data, Internet charges should be falling.
On Monday, Macra director general Henry Shamu said they will be engaging mobile operators to discuss on how to reduce data charges.