Zimbabwe's Econet adjusts roaming rates

Zimbabwe's Econet adjusts roaming rates

Company explains development reflects government moves to liberalise forex market.

Zimbabwe's Econet Wireless is now levying roaming charges in foreign currency after the country's Central Bank separated bank accounts earning forex from those earning local currency.

The Central Bank is battling a foreign currency crunch that has grounded operations for some companies, with several others forced to hike the prices of goods and services.

The Southern African country has devalued the bond notes and coins used as legal tender alongside other foreign currencies. It has also moved to liberalise the exchange rate regime, with forex rates now being determined on an interbank market.

Mobile telecom firms have however not hiked tariffs - although industry insiders have described current tariffs as "sub-optimal".

Econet said on Tuesday that it has "certain services that require direct settlement in foreign currency including roaming, international outbound calling and SMS.

Telecommunication services providers firms like Africom have faced challenges paying for bandwidth from regional suppliers.

Econet stated: "In the circumstances, to enable Econet Wireless to provide the services above please be advised that with effect from midnight 26 February 2019, the charges for roaming and international outbound calling and SMS services will be adjusted to reflect the movement in the exchange rate as determined on the interbank settlement system."

The telco has announced that roaming tariffs have now been increased from US$1 per minute to US$1.10 per minute for South Africa and US$1.13 for Botswana among other countries in the region.

Zimbabwe has a signficant expat population in both South Africa and Botswana.

International calls will now be levied at US$10.78 per minute for incoming calls while outbound calls will be charged at US$1.20 in roaming fees. The Zimbabwean bond notes, which have now been denominated together with electronic funds and mobile money as RTGS Dollars, are currently trading at 1:2.5 against the United States Dollar on official markets.

"This is not a change in tariffs. The applicable tariffs for these services remain unchanged. We are simply recognising the impact of the movement in the exchange rates from 1:1 to the interbank rate as determined by the market for services that are directly procured in foreign currency," the company added.