MACRA formulates economic regulations for Malawi telecom operators

Malawi Communications and Regulatory Authority (MACRA) said that the new economic regulations it has developed will enhance the legal and regulatory framework for the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry once they are operational.

Itaye briefing stakeholders

MACRA Director General, Godfrey Itaye said this on Wednesday in Blantyre during a Stakeholder consultation workshop on economic regulations which are tariffs, interconnection and facilities regulations.

“We have developed draft regulations on tariffs, interconnection and facilities sharing and it is a requirement by law that we consult stakeholders.

“Feedback from the consultative meeting will form the basis of continuous review and revision of policies and regulations to correct market failures,” he pointed out.

Itaye said under the Tariff Regulations, MACRA intends to ensure that tariffs are cost based as well as provide rules that operators need to follow when setting or revising charges for their services

“At the moment MACRA is receiving a lot of complaints from consumers regarding ICT tariffs which are considered to be high.

“It is in our interest to create a conducive environment for all players in the communications sector, that is, the service providers and their customers as well as the Government.

“We have laid down penalties for noncompliance that include fines and all these will be discussed during the consultative meeting,” the Director pointed out.

In case of Access and Facilities Regulations, Itaye said the aim is to provide a conducive environment for operators to be able to share infrastructure in their service deployment.

He said the regulatory body is doing all it can to make sure that they finalise all the necessary procedures to enable to the enforcement of the regulations

Chief Officer for Consumer Services for TNM, Daniel Makata hailed MACRA for consulting the operators on the new regulations calling it an important process where they are supposed to have a thorough debate on how the regulations are going to affect tariffs.

“As mobile service providers, we are regulated by MACRA which is mandated to offer these regulations. However, before the regulations are published, we are supposed to discuss.

“We are in business and there are regulating the businesses we do as such we need to balance the two between our operations, what we are offering to customers and how that is provided to the public in general,” Makata stated

He observed that, “These regulations affect our businesses, how we provide services to our customers and we need to have an agreement that is both representative of the consumers and operators.” he observed.

Makata pointed out that tariff regulation is an important aspect as it points to the core of operator’s existence as businesses as we exist to provide services to our customers profitably.

Commenting on Malawi’s tariffs being high in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region, he said that the prices are fair and in tandem with the cost structure which is there in the country.

“As a business, we buy services from different service providers to enable us provide these services to people in this country.

“Economic factors that are prevalent in Malawi are different from economic factors prevalent in other markets so we cannot compare neck to neck with what is prevalent in neighbouring countries or in other countries in the SADC region.

“As operators we look at the environment we are in, how are we doing our business and where we are getting different services for us to be able to provide different service to customers,” Makata added.

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