Updated: Feb 24, 2020
Zambian mobile operators are now required to offer non-expiry data bundles to consumers. Telecommunications stakeholders, including companies and ZICTA (the Zambian ICT Authority) hope that this measure will benefit consumers while boosting internet penetration in Zambia.
ZICTA statistics indicate that there are 10 893 183 internet users in the country, i.e. 62.7% penetration, while mobile users stands at 16 889 138 users representing 96% penetration. Parliament passed a resolution to require mobile operators to offer non-expiry of data in August 2019 and some MPs argued that expiry of data packages prejudiced consumers while benefiting mobile operators.
While mobile operators must offer non-expiry bundles, consumer groups argue that non-expiry bundles are overpriced. The Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS) complained that the bundles are exorbitantly priced compared to those which are subject to expiry. MTN, for example, sells its non-expiry 5GB Freedom Bundle for K 410 while a 5GB bundle which expires after 30 days sells for K 50. CUTS argues that non-expiry bundles are not priced to make them affordable for the poor and requested that mobile operators review their pricing mechanism.
The higher price of non-expiry data bundles may undermine digital inclusion and internet penetration in Zambia. It may be that further state intervention is necessary as non-expiry data pricing does seem to indirectly prejudice the poor.
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