Malawi: ISPs, telcos under pressure to reduce costs for internet services
Malawi’s Minister of Information and government spokesperson Gospel Kazako has ordered the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to urgently reduce the cost of data charges.
Kazako expressed concern that locals are being charged “a lot of money” for internet services compared to neighbouring countries.
He said in Tanzania, people buy a 1GB data bundle for 40 cents (US$), while in Malawi people buy the same for 80 cents (US$).
“To own a phone in Malawi is like a crime. Data especially is a big problem in this country. Something has to be done and it has to be done very quickly,” said Kazako.
He said it was unfair for telecom operators to charge exorbitant prices and added that MACRA should ensure that ISPs and mobile phone operators reduce their data charges.
MACRA Director General Henry Shamu agreed with the Minister and said the regulator will soon call for a round table meeting with service providers in the country to discuss the reduction of internet charges.
“We have a serious issue which we need to consider very urgently and we expect as MACRA that the charges will go down after discussing with operators on how they can go about reducing data charges,” said Shamu.
Last week, civil rights organisations in Malawi lobbied government over the high cost of internet services and blamed the situation on taxes enforced.
The organisations called on the government to remove the 17.5% value added tax on mobile phones, 16.5% on internet services and the 10% excise duty on messages and internet data transfers.