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Zambia counts the cost of expensive data services

Zambia counts the cost of expensive data services

The number of mobile internet users in Zambia has dropped from 6.1 million to 5.2 million in just one year, despite growth in mobile phone subscriptions.

According to the Minister of Communications and Transport Brian Mushimba, as of December 2016, the total number of active mobile phone subscribers in Zambia increased to 12 million from 11.6 million subscribers recorded at the end of 2015, representing 74.9% mobile penetration rate.

However, the latest statistics from the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) confirms 5.2 million mobile internet subscribers representing a 32.15% penetration rate.

Last year, ZICTA attributed the increased internet access and the demand for data services to the rapid adoption of smartphones and other mobile devices.

Mushimba said the high cost of data services is one of the reasons for the drop in the number of mobile internet users, and that many locals are using basic handsets instead of data-enabled phones.

He added that data services should be easily accessed and affordable to all.

"The high cost of data services offered by various players on the Zambian market is mainly to blame. This is why we have come up with a new policy framework that will open doors for more players in the market so that we bring down the cost of data services. Zambians are paying too much for services that have remained poor most of the time," said Mushimba.

ZICTA acting executive director Patrick Mutimunshi said the regulator has noted various complaints from people regarding the billing of internet bundles and assured that the matter is being addressed.

He said some customers have been complaining about the missing bundles from their gadgets and the poor quality of services by operators.

"We have now strengthened our compliance unit and they are going to see to it that some of these things are going to reduce to levels which everyone will be happy about," Mutimunshi said.

In Zambia, 2GB data bundles cost as much as K190 while 1GB cost about K134.

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