Zimbabwe’s Internet services have become the most expensive in the world following latest massive increases in monthly United States dollar rates charged by the country’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
ISPs in Zimbabwe increased their monthly subscription charges by more than 1000 percent, a situation which saw a drop of internet subscribers in the country where about 800 000 Zimbabweans have access to the internet.
ISPs blame the increase the government’s Tel-One of who charge exorbitant services rates in a bid to fast raise hard currency to pay its international bills for global links.
Zimbabwe was recently disconnected from the global links after an international satellite firm, Intelsat, cut its international bandwidth because it failed to pay the $700,000 fee.
An official from one of the leading ISPs in the country, Zimbabwe Online (ZOL), told Sunday Standard that the latest move will affect their business as clients were pulling out as they could not afford the new charges.
“Zimbabwe has become the most expensive country to use internet following the latest increase in charges by the government Tel-One. We also had to increase our charges to clients to survive as Tel-One is charging us thousands of US dollars now,” a ZOL official spoke on condition of anonymity.
A survey by the Sunday Standard revels that most Zimbabwe ISPs increased their monthly charges to US$300 per month, up from below US$30, for both local and international bandwidth service.
Most internet shops in Zimbabwe have also been forced to close shop altogether since internet users find the charges beyond reach, the survey revealed.
When contacted for comment, the new Information, Communications and Technology Minister, Nelson Chamisa, said his Ministry is working on the issue saying the high internet charges were ‘unacceptable’ as they were likely to cut most average Zimbabweans from the rest of the world.
Chamisa said ISPs should not cut off clients and clients who fail to pay the new exorbitant monthly internet bills until the matter on tariffs is resolved.
“We are working on that. This is a matter of emergency. We can’t have such exorbitant prices charged by ISPs. It will cut most average Zimbabweans from the world,” said Chamisa.
A freelance journalist, Farai Sibanda, said he will soon stop using internet as he cannot afford the charges by his ISP.
“I used to pay US$20 per month for a local bandwidth but they are now demanding US$300 per month. I am not going to pay that; it’s too expensive. I would rather stop using internet,” said Sibanda.
ISPs also blamed Tel-One for poor services at a time when it increases charges. No comment could be obtained from TelOne telecommunications company’s public relations managers as there were said to be locked in meetings the whole week.