By Trouble Ziba, MANA
Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako says he is delighted at Airtel’s decision to increase data benefits for its customers and reducing Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) tariffs, but has asked the mobile operator to do more to accord Malawians affordable ICT services.
Airtel Malawi, one of the country’s top mobile phone service providers, announced on Thursday at a press briefing in Lilongwe that it would increase value of data bundles to make internet connectivity more affordable effective Monday, August 3, 2020.
Reacting to what he described as good news, Kazako expressed delight with the mobile operator’s move, saying affordable internet charges would bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.
“…For Malawi to forge ahead in the digital era, it is of paramount importance that ICT services be accessible and affordable at all times,” he said, adding that this was why government has placed the ICT sector as a priority among priorities.
Kazako said the telecommunications sub sector is catalyst of this process and assured the public that the Government would continue providing a conducive environment for investors in the country, including those in ICT sector.
He pointed out at two things among others that the mobile operator needs to look into — that the mobile operator should not to put expiry dates for bundles, saying consumers need to be left to plan on when to use their bundles.
The Minister also asked Airtel to consider giving data bonuses to its deserving customers without waiting for them to actually demand their deserved bonuses.
“Bonuses should not be demanded, they must be given automatically to those who deserve them,” he said.
When announcing the company’s decision to increase benefits of internet bundles, Airtel’s Managing Director, Charles Kamoto said the company had been listening carefully to feedback from customers and has now understood their concerns.
“That is why we are increasing benefits in some of our bundles and reducing Pay-As-You-Go tariffs,” the managing director announced.
He said his company shares government’s goal of making high-quality digital services available and affordable for the people.
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) Director General, Henry Shamu said in his earlier remarks, that there have been complaints from the public that internet is expensive in Malawi.
He said when the regulatory body met internet providers; they attributed the costs to the land locked status of the country and high levels of taxation in the country.
Shamu said MACRA would engage a consultant to look into internet charges in the country but the Minister said while that was good thing to do, consumers were also the best consultants to listen to.
Among others, Airtel has reduced PAYG tariffs from K15/MB to K5/MB and has increased customers’ data benefits by effectively reducing the rate per MB for daily, weekly volume bundles and whatsapp bundles substantially.
Customers opting for daily volume bundle for K100 will now receive 25MB per day, compared to the previous 15MB.
Those customers with a weekly bundle for K300 will receive 80MB per week, an increase of 30MB compared to the previous bundle.
Meanwhile, customers choosing a weekly bundle for K600 will receive 175MB per week, an increase of 25MB.
MACRA, in conjunction with Airtel Malawi and Information Ministry, organised the press briefing.