South Africa: Lobby group fights for low rates

Lobby group Right2Know has come out to challenge South Africa mobile phone operators Vodacom and MTN to chop down their cost to communicate.

The group, launched an attacked at the two operators saying they are denying the public the right to communicate and have asked communications regulator, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, (ICASA) to step in and investigate the two operators, saying they are crippling the public.

The lobby group launched a campaign to call for free basic and affordable telecommunications.

National Coordinator for Right2Know Mark Weinberg said there was hope that the campaign will put pressure on the two giants to consider reducing the cost of communication.

The cost to communicate in South Africa is among the highest in the world. The country ranked 117th out of 140 countries in terms of mobile tariffs.

Vodacom and MTN has become the target of the campaign as they dominate the industry, controlling nearly 80 percent of South Africa’s mobile phone communication market.

Virgin Mobile South Africa last week accused Vodacom and MTN of unregulated and anticompetitive behavior, saying that the two companies are making it tough for smaller players to enter the market.

Flat rates among mobile operators in South Africa are expected to promote sustainable competition, with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) moving to review the telecommunications industry.

In June the year, the launch of the Cost to Communicate Programme came at a time when consumers are a lot more sensitive to communication pricing in South Africa.

Vodacom dismissed the claims of high costs while MTN said it operates in a regulated market.

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Pascal Raditsebe Correspondent

Johannesburg, South Africa

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