With the internet fast becoming a part of everyday life for a large majority of Zimbabweans, data consumption has increased exponentially as almost all forms of communication are internet-based. Although price hikes have become a day to day occurrence in the country, the cost of data remains a heated debate amongst peers, with local telecom companies becoming victims of public scrutiny.
Currently, a 1GB monthly data bundle on the Econet network, will cost you ZWL$110. While these amounts may send customers into a state of panic; when converted, Zimbabwe’s average cost of data remains competitive. The official interbank rate of the ZWL$15.5 to the US$1 leaves the cost of 1GB monthly data bundle at $7.10. A competitive price given the current economic standing of the country. According to a study by Cable.co.uk, a site which compares broadband prices, the global average for 1GB is $8.53; which proffers a difference of $1.43.
There are many elements to consider when analysing the cost of data, including infrastructural capacity of the service provider, the cost of international bandwidth, cost of licence fees and economic stability of the country in question. Most of these require foreign currency which resource is currently scarce in Zimbabwe. The exchange rates for ZWL to USD have reached alarming levels.With the incessant drop in value of the RTGS, local operators are incurring daily loses for services provided, some of which are imported and paid for in USD.
Someone who is in touch with the reality of the Zimbabwean situation would be cognisant of the latter and realise that the main issue is not the supposedly high cost of data but the economic instability within the country. Addressing this issue would not only make for a fair playing field but also see significant changes and reduction in cost of living expenses for all Zimbabweans.