Earlier this week Econet announced that they would be reviewing their data, SMS and voice bundle ZWL prices. That was understandable, it had been months since they last reviewed their prices. What was rather surprising was the scale of the price adjustments. We expected some sort of price lashing and are pleased to review that there was none. Instead what we had were a couple of tweaks to the voice bundles with Econet adding a new two minutes voice bundle. The biggest changes we saw were to Private WiFi bundles that saw a 20% price hike. The eLearning bundle which is just a misnamed Private WiFi bundle was left untouched making it very attractive compared to it’s companions.
In total the following changes were made by Econet:
- Added a 2-minute voice bundle going for $19.50 ZWL
- Minor price increases to the other voice bundles
- 600MB data bundle now going for $850 ZWL instead of $802 ZWL
- 10GB Private WiFi bundle now $5 184 ZWL from $4 320 ZWL
- 15GB Private WiFi bundle now $7 920 ZWL from $6 600 ZWL
- 25GB bundle now $9 442 ZWL from $7 860 ZWL
- 50GB bundle now going for $14 400 ZWL up from $12 000 ZWL
- eLearning bundle (just an improperly named Private WiFi bundle) still has the same unchanged price of $4 920 ZWL
- Slight increases to the SMS bundles. Do people still really use SMS?
A disproportionate increase
All in all, this was a disproportionate and rather surprising change. We thought Econet would do what they usually do and seek parity by increasing the prices of their ZWL bundle so that they match their USD bundle prices. Right now, for example, their monthly WhatsApp bundle is going for US$3.00 but in comparison, the WhatsApp bundle is closer to the US$1.50 mark. Why then would one buy a more expensive USD bundle when they can get cheaper services using ZWL bundles? It is rather puzzling but as my friend and colleague put it-this is the game of rates. Zimbabweans play such games shrewdly, after all, they have been playing this game for over two decades now. Some were born in it.
You can expect that at some point Econet will make some changes. There is no way they will continue to charge such prices what with fuel prices, inflation and rates on a constant upward trajectory.