Government pushes for further reduction in data charges

Government says discussions with mobile service providers are underway to ensure that data charges are affordable.

In July this year, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako ordered Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to engage mobile telecommunication companies to reduce data charges.

Kazako told YFM in an interview on Wednesday that although mobile service providers reduced their data charges some months ago, the charges are still exorbitant.

Kazako said: “The issue of data is very serious as far as we are concerned, as you can recall we had engaged the service providers and the prices were reduced to around 40% but to us that’s not good enough because data is still very expensive in the country.”

He further revealed that government is investigating the service providers on the suspicious anomalies surrounding the depletion rate of internet data.

He said in Malawi, data depletes at a faster rate compared to other neighboring countries who uses the same data.

“The number of GBs in our neibouring countries last longer than the same amount in Malawi so we want to find out why and let me emphasize that government has all the resources and certainly we will get to the bottom of the matter,” said Kazako.

He added that a few weeks ago he visited Tanzania where he met some of the internet providers and he discovered that data is very expensive in Malawi.

On July 13, 2020, a joint statement was also issued by the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), and other organisations urging the Malawi government to review the cost of telecommunications services, especially in view of Covid-19 restrictions some of which led to increased reliance on digital technologies.

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