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Does 1Gig of data cost US$75 in Zimbabwe?

A report by the BBC claims Zimbabweans pay US$75 for a gigabyte of data
Claim: Zimbabwe data prices are US$75 per Gigabyte, the most expensive internet prices in the world.

Verdict: Not true. The last tariff approved by the telecommunications regulator, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) is a maximum of ZWL19 cents per megabyte.

In January, in a report comparing the cost of data around the world, the BBC claimed that internet prices in Zimbabwe are the highest in the world, at US$75 per Gigabyte.

This is inaccurate.

On October 24 2019, Potraz set new tariffs for mobile phone operators and internet service providers. Potraz approved a 95.39% increase in tariffs, saying the tariffs set in August 2019 had "been rendered unsustainable as the operating environment has further deteriorated due to inflationary pressures".

Internet prices were set at a maximum of ZWL19 cents per megabyte for non-promotional (out of bundle) data.

This translates to ZWL190 per Gig. In US dollar terms, the cost per Gig is US$11.10 at the official interbank rate, and US$8.20 per Gig if translated at the unofficial market rate, which traders in Harare put at ZWL23 against the US dollar as at January 22, 2020.

Currency confusion
This is not the first time that media outlets have inaccurately reported that Zimbabwe has among the highest data prices in the world. In March 2019, technology magazine Cable also reported that Zimbabwe had the most expensive data prices in the world, at US$75 a Gig. This was disputed by Potraz, which published statistics by the Communication Regulators Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) showing that Zimbabwe's data prices were among the lowest in the region at the time.

The inaccuracies on data prices are largely based on misunderstanding over the currency regime in Zimbabwe. Until February 2019, the Zimbabwe dollar was officially pegged at 1:1 against the US dollar. However, in real terms, the US dollar had already been trading at a premium to the local unit, especially since the introduction, in 2016, of bond notes.

The claim that the internet costs US$75 per Gig in Zimbabwe is not true. The maximum tariff as at January 2020 was 19 Zimbabwean cents per megabyte.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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