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Malawi's mobile phone rates highest in the region

Information Communication Association of Malawi (ICTAM) interim President Derek Lakudzala has observed that Malawi's mobile phone tariffs are too high in Malawi as compared to other countries in the region.
Airtime worth US$1 takes less than two minutes off-peak hours. Lakudzala said the high tariffs among other things are due to expensive infrastructure such as towers which is not shared among operators and therefore a lot of unnecessary cost is passed on to the consumer.

“There is no denying that phone tariffs are very high in Malawi but purely pushing the blame entirely on the operators is not correct either,” he said. He said tax policy regimes and regulatory frameworks play a role.

The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) more players and hence more competition would help bring down the high tariffs.

“We are sure that consumers would be the best ultimate beneficiaries from the increased number of players on the market,” said MACRA Acting Director General Mike Kuntiya, who also reckons innovation and quality would also improve.

This view is however not shared with ZAIN MD Fayaz King, who says reduced taxes and wooing more customers to existing network would enable companies to reduce airtime prices.

He said although ZAIN has mounted a network that can accommodate 5 million users, it is only servicing 1.5 million subscribers. ZAIN believes that if it can woo at least 3 million people to start using their network, then they could start enjoying the benefits of economies of scale.

“And we can be able to extend the same to consumers through reduced taxes,” he said.
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About Gregory Gondwe

Gregory Gondwe is a Malawian journalist who started writing in 1993. He is also a media consultant assisting several international journalists pursuing assignments in Malawi. He holds a Diploma and an Intermediate Certificate in Journalism among other media-related certificates. He can be contacted on . Follow him on Twitter at @Kalipochi.