Mobile Network Operators are expected to reduce data charges effective on Thursday, April 22 following increased concerns from consumers regarding high internet data prices in the country.
A statement from Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) says the Ministry of Information directed it to engage the Mobile Network Operators to review and revise the current data prices more especially the lower volume bundles which are commonly used by the majority of internet users in the country.
“These engagements which mainly focused on the rates for 1GB volume bundles have been concluded,” said the statement.
“The outcome of the engagements will see a 30% reduction for the entry level 1GB volume bundle with the Telecommunications Operators further reducing the volume bundles up to 4GB between a range of 10% and 31%.”
MACRA says this has been done in cognisance of the “important role that ICT plays in the country’s socio-economic development and the role that internet services have played and continue to play mainly during the COVID-19 pandemic”.
“Government aims at ensuring that data services are affordable to all Malawians. Therefore, Government has taken cognizant of the concerns raised by the citizenry through the Ministry of Information as a policy holder of Information and Communication Technologies.
“In August 2020, the Mobile Network Operators reduced their Pay as you Go or out of bundle rates from an average of K20 to K5 per megabyte following an intervention from the Ministry.
“Since then, MACRA has been engaging the MNO’s to further revise the standard volume bundles offered to consumers to align to the cost of providing the services in the country.
“The Communications Authority would like to assure the public that it is committed to ensuring that services delivered are affordable and of good quality,” says MACRA, adding that the Telecommunication Operators themselves will soon be announcing these price changes to the public.
The road to this development came about when the public ran a massive campaign to reduce data cost that was dubbed ‘Data Must Fall’ which Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako also joined.
During the engagement process, Airtel Malawi, one of the country’s top mobile phone service providers, reduced the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) tariffs which Kazako expressed delight of but still asked the mobile operator to do more to accord Malawians affordable ICT services.
Kazako had said then that “or Malawi to forge ahead in the digital era, it is of paramount importance that ICT services be accessible and affordable at all times”.
He had also 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.