By Nomalanga Makwelo
Locals especially those with school going children have bemoaned the recent increase in data bundles by some of the leading telecommunications companies in the country, citing how this development will disrupt the e-learning strategy.
Parents who spoke to Skyz Metro FM news, indicated that the hike in data prices ,will negatively affect the studies of their children who had gone for a long time without learning due to the Covid 19 pandemic, as many of them could not afford the much needed data for them to do their school work.
Some also expressed their outrage over this decision, which they said came at a time when their economic activities which are meant to sustain their livelihoods are at a standstill due to the lockdown.
“The review in tariffs is insensitive and as parents we can not afford too buy bundles. Government should do something to ensure that we can afford to get bundles for our children to continue with e-learning otherwise they will stop”.
Also speaking on the issue was National Consumer Rights Association(NACORA) spokesperson Effie Ncube who not only highlighted the negative effects which will emanate from this development but also indicated how the increase in data prices will affect the households income of many families ,as many parents had to fork out more money which should be directed towards education.
Ncube advocated for government and POTRAZ to regulate the cost of data by telecommunications companies, to ensure children have access to education during this pandemic at an affordable price.
” The most important thing is to ensure that data is available and affordable for every person particularly for those located in rural areas and those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and that requires the intervention of government by way of regulating the cost of data . It is the duty of POTRAZ and the relevant ministry to make sure that data is available to every person “.
Econet Wireless spokesperson , Fungai Mandaveyi , attributed the increase to the rise in input costs as well as the need to ensure viability of their business.
The new tariffs will see a two-minute voice call bundle now going for ZW$10.00, up from the ZW$8.40, while a weekly 30-minute bundle will go from ZW$166 to ZW$180.
Mandiveyi said SMS daily bundle, consisting of five messages, has been reviewed upwards to ZW$2.40, from ZW$2.09, while the weekly bundle, made up of 75 messages, will now cost ZW$30, up from ZW$23.81.
The reviewed Econet data bundle prices, the Daily data bundle will now cost ZW$25 for 20MB of data, up from ZW$20, while Econet subscribers will now pay ZW$375 dollars for a weekly 370MB data bundle, up from ZW$288.