Mobile phones services provider, Airtel Malawi, has announced that it will hike its calling and SMS rates by an average of 25 percent effective Monday next week.

The development comes barely a week after the company’s competitor TNM Limited also announced the adjustment of their calling price by an average 30 percent.

TNM attributed the tariff hike to the 120 percent kwacha depreciation in the past year which resulted in significant increases in the cost base of the company.

The company also said while it believes that tariffs for telecommunication services must be made more affordable for the customers, the tariffs must also support the sustainability of the operators and their ability to continue to develop new services and technologies.

Airtel, in a statement, said the price adjustment is due to increased cost of doing business in the country.

“Over the past few months, Airtel has made every effort possible to ensure that its customers are not impacted by this increase in operational costs by maintaining its tariffs.

“However, in order to continue providing our valued customers with quality service, Airtel will be revising its calling and SMS rates,” reads part of the statement.

The company further said despite the adjustment, it will continue to offer its customers the most reliable services possible through various services like Yabooka.

However, consumers feel the price adjustments are already effective.

“The SMS rate is already at K12 from K10. Does it mean there will be another adjustment, In that case, some of us will find mobile phones a luxury and not a necessity with these economic hardships,” said one of the subscribers Alexander Mphatso.

Economic Empowerment Action Group (EEAG) has also said the adjustments comes at a better time when Parliament has just recommended to government the implementation of the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (Cirms) dubbed as ‘spy machine’.

EEAG president Lewis Chiwalo said the development gives room for government to justify the price hikes using the Cirms.

“This will be a litmus test for the machine as its main aim is to monitor phone tariffs. This is the chance to prove all critics wrong and show the nation the benefits of the machine by justifying if it is really necessary to have the tariffs increased this time around,” said Chiwalo.

He further said the Cirms will also help government improve communication in the country and give investor confidence as communication is a key in doing business.

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