The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) has urged the Government to impose caps on data price increases to ensure that all Zimbabweans remain connected.
This comes after the country’s two major mobile network operators (MNOs), Econet and NetOne, recently increased the cost of data bundles.
Arguably, the majority of Zimbabweans rely on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter for current affairs but the rise in the cost of data means that more people will miss out on vital information. Said ZIMCODD:
Barely a week after Econet increased its data costs Netone also announced the new costs of purchasing their data packages. Telecel is expected to follow suit soon.
Zimbabweans are at the mercy of the profit motive of the internet market which is controlled by only seven major internet service providers.
The fact that these same private sector companies control the country’s internet infrastructure means that government has little power to intervene on consumers behalf.
It also means that the country’s internet infrastructure and business model is beholden to the debt recovery interests of private creditors who financed the development of the infrastructure.
These continuous price increases by the Telecoms give credence to calls for the government to impose caps on data price increases to ensure that all Zimbabweans enjoy the right to access the internet.
Ordinary citizens who can hardly afford basics, more than half of whom are living in extreme poverty are heavily impacted and thereby left behind.
According to ZIMCODD, the rate that data costs have continued to rise leaves others behind and will increase the inequality gap between the rich and the poor with devastating generational implications.
This violates citizens’ right to access information as stipulated by Section 62 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution.