When ZOL Zimbabwe came to the spotlight, three years ago, in 2016, they had officially launched a game changer, this was the most affordable internet package in Zimbabwe, marked at $29 per month with 15Gb download limits , the same product saw the data increase in 2017 to 25Gb cap.
Of course many people questioned the sustainability of such a product, fast forward to 2019, ZOL Zimbabwe is simply saying we are maintaining the same package, but at actual USD price, just the way they started off.
However, recently there has been a social media outcry over ZOL Zimbabwe Home entertainment new prices, with some subscribers complaining that the Internet Service Provider has sharply increased their prices, way out of reach of many, who are using the bond notes or RTGS.
In an interview with ZOL Zimbabwe CEO Mr Denny Marandure, he actually explained that unlike the social media misunderstanding, ZOL Zimbabwe has in fact reduced their prices and increased data caps.
Fast forward to 2018 ZOL Zimbabwe announced the biggest price leap ever from the initial prices. This price according to Denny Marandure was affected when the RBZ introduced a 5% special excise duty.
In a notice to their clients, ZOL Zimbabwe announced that
“In our journey, we have continued to provide you with good service in spite of the economic strain our country is going through. On 24th of March 2017, the Finance Act (No.2) 2017, Section 312 (49) was amended by the Minister of Finance, wherein an additional 5% special excise duty, specified as a Health Fund Levy increased the excise duty to 10% for airtime and data services. As ZOL Zimbabwe, we have delayed passing this on to our customers since March 2017 when it was announced. Unfortunately, it is no-longer possible to disregard the effects of this excise duty on our overall service delivery making it necessary for us to increase our prices.”
ZOL restructured their 2018 prices as shown below.
“In this regard, ZOL Zimbabwe has revised pricing of all Residential and Business Fibroniks Packages by an average of 5% effective 1 July 2018. This price increase is consistent with ZOL Zimbabwe’s continued efforts of improving the quality of our network and the network experience for our customers. It’s at the core of our company, the core of our culture and the drive of our employees.”
However in 2019 , ZOL Zimbabwe had to face the dual pricing system created by the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe, where the Nostro accounts were separated from the RTGS balances, creating a big problem for most Zimbabwean businesses.
The government which initially had been adamant that the USD is 1:1 created a big problem for most businesses in Zimbabwe, and bandwidth importers who have to settle their international rates at prevailing black market rates and forced many players to at least increase prices to compensate for the gap.
However since the RBZ has now officially fixed the price, this has cleared air to most business players and given the green light to revert to actual USD price and value.
ZOL Zimbabwe stated that they have simply gone back to the initial 2016 pricing they launched with, but in fact are giving the same package so much data than the old caps they launched on.
The old ZOL fibroniks lite which was $29 for 25gb now offers 40gb which is an increase of extra 15gb while the actual price of the data has decrease to 73 cents from the initially pegged $1.16 , which makes it 43 cents cheaper
|Fibroniks Package||Current Data Cap||Free Data Offer||New Data Cap|
This move however has not been received well by some people who are calculating the same rates using the bond equivalent, stating the data price has gone out of reach, due to such effect as they can not afford nor do they earn USDs.
ZOL Zimbabwe maintains that the RTGS rate is nothing more but a calculation of the equivalent currency converted at the official rate of 2.5 , so they have not increased prices but simply aligned them to the RTGS value reality.
In statement ZOL Zimbabwe stated that:
“We would also like to advise you of a price alignment which will take effect from 1 April 2019. This follows the recent Monetary Policy Statement (“MPS”) announced by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (“RBZ”) Governor on the 20th of February 2019, which introduced the RTGS dollar.”
“Pricing for all our product services will remain unchanged from our base price, when payment is made in US Dollars, (refer to table below). However, when payment is made using the RTGS dollar, the price will be converted at the interbank foreign currency market rate.”
|Service Type – Fibroniks Packages||Base US$||RTGS$|
Technically ZOL Zimbabwe has simply re-aligned their prices with the new USD -RTGS regime, a move that also protects their business interests. The real problem which consumers and Potraz must be facing is the monetary policy which hoodwinked us into believing that they can settle their local bills using RTGS balance, when the same product requires foreign currency at prevailing rate.
This is another 1:1 gimmick we can not sustain as a nation and the RBZ must simply redress this matter and openly announce and accept the reality that savings have been raised down to the current prevailing rates, a move which has already triggered inflation, although we continue to suppress the figures publicly.