The Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) has warned that the cost of communication in the Southern African country is now beyond the reach of the majority.
Commenting on the increase in voice, Data, and SMS services by the country’s largest operator Airtel Malawi, CAMA Executive Director John Kapito stated that the development is alarming, especially after the government had assured the country of a reduction in the price of mobile phone data.
Earlier this year, the Minister of Information and Digitalisation Gospel Kazako said the government will do whatever it takes to bring down data prices.
The minister said it was shocking that most companies in the country were pushing consumers to the edge by raising tariffs instead of improving internal inefficiencies.
“This is shocking to consumers who for a long time have registered their anger with the current bundle prices, and one wonders how Airtel Malawi reconciles and justifies their bundle prices with an increase of 20 per cent,” Kazako said.
In a statement, Airtel Malawi explained that the revision of prices is primarily the result of soaring costs of doing business in the country following the 25 per cent devaluation of the Malawian currency (Malawian Kwacha) in May this year, rising energy costs and their domino effects.
Airtel said, “While the company has absorbed the ensuing pressure from these headwinds for more than five months, the value dilution has become unsustainable. Therefore, it is prudent to revise accordingly to protect Airtel’s broad stakeholder base interests and guard its capability to continue delivering quality customer service. Further, we will discontinue some of Airtel’s products to streamline and simplify the products portfolio for customer convenience.”
Kazako said the solution lies in bringing new players into the sector to raise the level of competition and force a reduction in costs.
To date, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has given licences to two companies: StarLink to ensure high-speed internet connectivity and Malcel, the county’s third mobile phone operator.