Macra irks consumers over tariffs, network glitches

The Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) has expressed dismay at the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority’s (Macra) delay to address concerns on tariffs affordability and network challenges.

The dismay follows Macra director general Godfrey Itaye’s to response to concerns raised by Cama last month on the poor network quality and high tariffs by mobile service providers TNM plc and Airtel Malawi.

Itaye: The authority is aware

In a letter dated August 11 2017 addressed to Cama executive director John Kapito, Itaye said while Macra is aware of the low quality services being offered by the mobile telecommunication companies and recent adjustment in data tariffs, Macra engaged the operators and will intervene an appropriate time.

Reads the letter in part: “The authority is aware of the low quality of service provided by communication service providers. As a regulator, what we require is that there should be minimal downtime as a result of the upgrades.

“Further, you may wish to know [that] the authority intends to launch the Consolidated ICT Management System [Cirms] in September 2017 which will assist the authority to regulate quality of service.”

Itaye said there have been recent data price adjustments by operators and the rationale provided by operators was that they were restructuring and repositioning their data bundles.

In a statement last week, Airtel Malawi managing director Charles Kamoto said his firm set out to implement the network upgrade from May to August 2017 in the country’s cities before proceeding to the rest of the country.

“So far, 290 sites have been upgraded in the above cities. With these upgrades, our 3G data services has expanded to areas that previously did not have coverage and more customers are now able to access our data services,” he said.

Kamoto said they regret that there are still intermittent call drops, silent calls as well as slower speed of Internet in some pockets of the cities caused by challenges that were not anticipated.

In an interview last week, Kapito said consumers are concerned that currently there is no authority in Malawi monitoring the poor quality of service and high tariffs by mobile service providers, adding that Macra is banking on Cirms which is yet to roll out.

“It is, therefore, disheartening that Macra is currently unable to discharge the key and core functions of its mandate related to consumer protection,” he said.

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