Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) says it has been taken unawares by a 14 percent tariff hike effected by TNM, one of the local telecommunications network operators.
Without giving further details, Macra director general Andrew Kumbatira said the two parties—Macra and the operator—were still in discussions on the issue.
Said Kumbatira: “As far as we [Macra] are concerned, we are still in discussions since we are due to meet them [TNM] this week.”
Effective April 7 2015, TNM increased its tariffs by 14 percent.
In March, Macra advised TNM to put on hold its proposed tariff increase by a similar percentage.
This time around, TNM said in messages to its subscribers that high inflation in the cost of utilities, goods and services that have resulted in a corresponding increase in TNM’s operating expenditure has prompted the increase in tariffs.
Ironically, in the past three months the inflation rate has been on a downward trend while the kwacha also stabilised and has been appreciating in value.
New TNM tariffs for intra-network calls are now at K1.38 per second (K83 per minute) during peak hours while off peak-hour calls will attract an K0.69 per second (K41.50 per minute) setback. Inter-network calls now cost K 1.67 per second (K100 per minute) during peak hours and K1 per second (K60 per minute) during off peak hours.
Short message services (SMS) charges have also been revised to K16, K23 and K40 for TNM to TNM, TNM to other networks and international subscribers respectively.
Data charges are now pegged at K0.24 per kilobyte (kb), translating into K25 per megabyte (MB).
Reacting to the increase, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito urged consumers to shun the company’s products saying: “When they wanted to increase their tariffs at first, we wrote Macra, objecting to the hike so the fact that they have now raised the tariffs is disappointing. We are left with no option but to urge consumers to move on to other networks.
“Some issues require sacrifice, so let us be united for once and not buy any TNM product for two weeks. We cannot have an omelette and keep our eggs at the same time. If we do not, then we should stop complaining,” said Kapito.
Malawi’s mobile phone tariffs are among the highest in the world, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).