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Malawi fast-tracks regulation to halt expiry dates on data bundles

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Malawi , 19 Nov 2020

Under pressure, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) says it has drafted regulation that will end the application of expiry dates on data bundles, an increasingly contentious issue within the country’s telecommunications services space.

The Communication Type Approval Regulation 2020 prevents mobile phone operators from applying expiry dates and stipulates that where a consumer does not opt in or out of bundle data charges, out-of-bundle data usage will not be allowed until the consumer purchases new data bundles.

The proposed law also stipulates that a “licence shall provide a consumer with an option to roll over unused data before expiry date of the bundles.”

MACRA spokesperson Clara Ngwira said the Regulator would engage with stakeholders before submitting the regulation to Ministry of Information.

Ngwira added that the Communications Act empowers the Minister of Information to make regulations for the operationalisation of the Act itself.

Ngwira was quoted by the local Times newspaper saying, “Regulations are in fact laws so the minister is in fact making laws to supplement the Communications Act. Parliament has delegated this law-making power to the minister. However, this power can only be exercised upon MACRA’s recommendation.”

Stakeholders including the ICT Association of Malawi (ICTAM) and the Consumer Association of Malawi have lobbied MACRA to force the country’s two mobile phone operators to remove the expiry date on data bundles.

Last week, ICTAM asked the government to force Airtel Malawi and Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) to comply after accusing MACRA of having failed to act on the matter.

Following MACRA’s revelation that it has drafted a regulation, ICTAM president Bram Fudzulani said, “We hope that once signed by the Minister, Malawians will feel relief especially now that they can budget their data based on their consumption and not worry about it expiring.”

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