We will now have less talktime from each airtime voucher, and yes even talktime that comes from a pint of beer. So if you haven’t noticed the extra ngwees being deducted, this must be news to you.
The ringing in of 2014 also meant the ringing in of more expensive services from mobile service providers than in 2013. The main cause for this is that the recent excise duty hike in Zambia of 15% that has been directly transferred to the consumer. This means that there is absolutely no impact on the businesses as they are still selling the airtime at the same price. However, the catch is that for the same amount of money, consumers get less value in talktime.
The Post online states that, Airtel Zambia, MTN Zambia, and Zamtel announced that they had on January 1 effected the 15 per cent excise duty on airtime in compliance with the Customs and Excise (Amendment) Act of 2013. Interestingly enough, they only saw it fit to make these announcements 7 days after the new year! What this means is that, the value of every recharge voucher has been reduced by approximately 4.5 per cent, thus increasing the cost of a mobile phone call and SMS made on all three networks. The hike is apparently a result of government effecting a 15 per cent duty on airtime to boost the country’s dwindling revenues. And yet we thought that all those roads were free!
On January 6, 2014, Zambian Breweries Plc announced that the increase in excise tax by 16% on clear beer would make the Zambian produced brands the most expensive in the region. However, the difference between the alcohol manufacturers and the telecom companies is that, Zambian Breweries Plc is actually not transferring the burden of tax directly onto the consumers; instead, they are making efforts to offset the cost by spreading the impact to non-returnable bottle packs as well.
Sadly, Zambia is already one of the most expensive countries in terms of mobile communication basket, consequently raising the cost of doing business. Airtel Zambia and Zamtel have not made any changes to their websites indicating this new development. On the other hand, MTN Zambia has modified their tariff breakdown on their site. However, this does not mean that there has been sufficient consumer education.
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