POTRAZ to finalise several projects in 2014; government imposes new tax on mobile money transfers

8 Jan 2014

Zimbabwean telecoms watchdog the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) has reportedly revealed plans to complete several mothballed projects in 2014. Agence Ecofin reports that the authority aims to introduce a new cost-based pricing model for the country’s mobile operators in 2014, and POTRAZ’s deputy director Alfred Marisa revealed that the regulator has already selected an international consultant for the development of the new Long Run Incremental Cost (LRIC) model. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the watchdog invited bids from companies for the provision of consultancy services for the development of LRIC cost model in July 2013, with the auction taking place on 27 August 2013. Further, POTRAZ is reportedly planning to implement system measuring quality of service (QoS) in the first quarter of 2014, in addition to automated frequency management system, which had been previously shelved. Alfred Marisa also said that the authority will take steps to address consumer protection issues, by providing guidelines for consumer protection in the first quarter of 2014, while also developing the declaration of the rights of consumers throughout the year.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has revealed that as of 1 January 2014 a new tax of USD0.05 has been levied on all mobile money transactions. According to Business Day, in his 2014 budget presentation last month Mr Chinamasa said that ‘the emergence of mobile technology has opened doors to innovative technology, which facilitates transfer of funds through mobile phones’, adding that mobile money platforms had to ‘conform to the tax principle of fairness — hence the current tax on similar products such as automotive teller machines and point of sale should apply.’ However, no further details on how the new tax will be imposed have been released so far.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Econet launched its mobile money transfer service, ‘EcoCash’ in September 2011, and claimed to have passed the one million subscriber milestone for the service in early March 2012. A year after its launch EcoCash had achieved more than 1.7 million users, making the cellco one of the country’s largest banking service providers. By end-February 2013, the total number of registered customers had increased by 62% year-on-year to 2.1 million users, and a total of USD1.2 billion worth of transactions had carried over the platform since its launch.