By Duncan Mlanjira
After newly-appointed Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako’s plea to Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to ask mobile service providers to reduce data charges, Airtel Malawi has issued a statement that it is taking an engagement approach on the matter.
A press statement addressed to its customers on its official digital platforms from Managing Director, Charles Kamoto says they have engaged an approach with relevant authorities so that the debate and consequent decisions around data pricing should be fact-based.
“Airtel Malawi shares the Government’s goal of making high-quality digital services available and affordable for the people of Malawi,” Kamoto says in the statement.
“In our quest to provide customers with the best network coverage at the most affordable prices, we have lowered prices over recent years and invested in expanding our 4G network coverage across the country.
“We have also, despite our landlocked country status, deployed additional back-up fiber spanning over 2,100kms across Malawi to enhance data capacity and resilience.
“However, we realize that we can always do more, which is why we are listening carefully to the feedback from you, our customers.
“We have heard your concerns and are taking an engagement approach on the matter with the relevant authorities so that the debate and consequent decisions around data pricing should be fact-based.
“We look forward to working together to make the power of mobile communications affordable for our country and will provide updates on the same through our official channels,” Kamoto said.
On a familiarization tour of MACRA, Minister Kazako gave an example of Tanzania where mobile data is bought at 4 centre per second while Malawians are charged 80 cents per second.
He had said it is unfair for mobile service providers in Malawi to charge poor Malawians exorbitantly on Internet services, saying to own a smart phone is like a crime.
He pledged that he had told MACRA to seriously consider this “because we think Malawians are being skinned alive and something must be done and it has to be done very, very quickly”.
In response, MACRA’s Director General, Henry Shamu promised to work on the matter, saying they “will engage the operators so that we can discuss how best we can address the issue”.