March 9, 2020

Zim internet companies bleeding

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Ndakaziva Majaka

ZIMBABWE’S internet providers are bleeding and in need of a tariff review as the local currency loses ground against the United States Dollar, an industry player has said.

Liquid Telecom Regional chief executive of Southern Africa Wellington Makamure earlier today (Monday) lamented that while most overhead costs for internet firms are honoured in foreign exchange, the local tariff – which has been static since November 2019 – has become useless.

This comes amid talk that local internet tariffs are higher compared to other regional players.

“We are actually suffering, if you transfer the prices to USD. We are actually lagging behind in terms of pricing. Horribly so, I will not be apologetic about this, we are horribly lagging behind.

“This industry is in dire straits. We are only providing the service because we know clients are also having challenges. It’s not just us, the whole industry is bleeding. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, things will get bad for the country. And this is all because of a disconnected tariff approval system,”
Makamure said at a news conference in the capital.

According to a report compiled by analysts at Cable UK, Zimbabwe is ranked 145th among 206 countries with the average cost of a fixed-line broadband package placed at US$63.87.

Meanwhile, Liquid announced that thousands of its enterprise customers would automatically benefit from enhanced internet connectivity across the company’s fibre network.

Starting this March, and for an initial period of six months, many enterprises will benefit from increased internet bandwidth with speeds of up to fifty per cent faster and without any additional costs.

“Liquid Telecom is playing a vital role supporting businesses and the customers they serve with faster, higher capacity internet without additional expense. As a result, many organisations across Zimbabwe should be in a stronger position to maintain service delivery.

“This is likely to include fewer disruptions relating to online shopping and banking, maintaining day- to-day business operations with cloud-based services and supporting critical services including telemedicine and digital e-health solutions,” Makamure said.

This offer follows the successful roll-out of ‘Edu-zones’, a corporate social responsibility initiative, under which free internet access has been provided to thousands of students through free Wi-Fi at over 48 tertiary institutions across the country.

Similarly, the group is also moving to provide free internet for hospital staff at 13 of the country’s major hospitals.

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