A Quarterly EnewsLetter Vol.7, Issue No. 2, 2011

Editorial Comments

Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) International commends the observation made by the Bank of Zambia Governor, Caleb Fundanga regarding low competition that has characterised the banking industry in Zambia. This comes against the backdrop of the organisations continued calls for a critical analysis of the sector.

Analysing the status of competition using the number of players as a variable to measure, one is tempted to conclude and rationally assume there is competition in the banking sector in Zambia. However, to get a clear understanding on whether effective competition has ensued or not, it will also be good to analyse the sector by looking at two variables, namely, price and non-price competition.

Currently, it is only the banking sector in Zambia whose operations are contrary to the laws of supply and demand. Despite a surge of banking services and products, on the back of a relatively stagnant demand side, prices or banking charges have remained high.

For a vibrant, dynamic and competitive market system to be effective, it requires a sound regulatory framework that ensures that the tenets of competition benefit the competitive environment and the consumer welfare vis-a-vis promote economic growth.

Zambia recently formed an elaborate competition policy and passed a law. This should not just be a luxury to be enjoyed, but be made into a real necessity for creating democratic markets, not just in the banking sector, but in the economy as a whole.


Airtel Launches Double Sim-in-1
Airtel Zambia, the leading mobile telecommunications company in Zambia, launched an extraordinary double sim-in-one pack offer which comes with two consecutive numbers in one single starter pack.

The launch was done during the commemoration of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. According to Airtel, the offer is first of its kind in Zambia and Africa. The new product allows customers to enjoy voice calls and SMS at 50 percent discount between the two sim cards. The two customers will be able to exchange two free sms’s everyday as long as a top up of US$2.05973 has been made

(Source: izambia.com, 19.05.11)

BA Slashes Lusaka-London Fares
British Airways (BA) has reduced its fares across the board on its Lusaka-London flight as part of restructuring of its ticket pricing system. British Airways Commercial Manager for Zambia, Beatrice Kamanga, said the airline has introduced a new “shoulder season” of mid-range fares for flights from June 10-22, December 06-31 and between August 15-October 31.

Kamanga said the reductions will mean the airline, which is the only airline to fly customers direct from Zambia to Europe, give travellers real value for money. The airline has been working hard to provide affordable fares, while maintaining high quality service and comfort.

British Airways has been operating in Zambia for more than 70 years and currently flies in the country three times a week.

(Source: The Post, 08.05.11)

Banks Accused of Exploiting Zambians
The Southern province Minister, Elijah Muchima, has accused international banks operating in Zambia of exploiting Zambians citizens. He said it is unfair for banks such as Barclays, Stanbic and others, which have branches in other countries, to charge high rates in Zambia compared to other countries where they are operating.

“Because of our economy which is not favourable most Zambians do not depend on their salaries alone but they have extra income or businesses which we call tuntemba, so if these banks are making it difficult for these poor Zambians to access loans how are they going to sustain themselves,” he asked.

Muchima appealed to the financial institutions to look into the welfare of the ordinary Zambians.

(Source: Zambian Watchdog, 26.06.11)

Albidon Tremors Worry Villagers
Villagers living near Albidon Mine in Naluama outpost of Mazabuka district have called on the mine management to state exactly what is causing earth tremors in the area. And, some miners at the Albidon Mine have called on the government to direct mine management to take safety seriously before a major accident occurs.

They charged that the failure by the mine to alert people about the tremors clearly showed how insensitive the management was to the plight of the community. Another accident occurred, in which a Jumbo Driller was buried under the earth as underground miners were preparing to start drilling in the tunnel. Some of the remains of the driller have since been recovered. As a result of the recent accident, miners are now afraid to work lest they be buried under the ground

(Source: Post Online, 26.06.11)

AfriConnect Unveils Low-cost Surfing
Africonnect Zambia has announced the introduction of a new, low-cost, pay-as-you-go wireless broadband service. The company Managing Director, Mark Bennett, said the move was directly in line with the company’s effort to increase Internet access in the country.

He said it was essential that majority of Zambians have access to the Internet.

“For the past five years, AfriConnect has offered its high-speed iConnect broadband service, via fixed monthly subscriptions, with higher cost equipment needed for multi-computer and demanding environments. We are now introducing a service for homes and small businesses for all to have access,” he said.

Zamtel said that the new service will provide affordable access to all social media platforms as well as instant chat applications including Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, MSN Messenger, etc.

(Source: Post Online, 23.05.11)

Snapshots on Consumer Issues

CCPC Welcomes Directive
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has welcomed the directive by the government to Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to reduce the price of maize to millers. The CCPC Director for Consumer and Public Relations, Brian Lingela, says this will enable vulnerable consumers to afford to purchase the commodity.

Lingela said that purchase of maize at the reduced price must, however, be extended to other stakeholders, apart from millers. The Economics Association of Zambia has appealed to the government to consider looking at the cost of producing maize.

(Source: Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, 04.04.11)

CCPC to Regulate Consumers
The civil society organisations said the CCPC has now been given effective mandate to effectively regulate competition and protect the consumers’ rights, following the new legal framework.

CUTS and Zambia Consumer Association said that the CCPC is now better able to regulate the sector, following the enactment of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act number 24 of 2010.

Simon Ng’ona of CUTS said that consumer rights’ advocates are now looking forward to the establishment of the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal, which is another provision of the new Act, so that it can start handling cases.

(Source: Times of Zambia, 04.04.11)

MultiChoice, ZNBC in Pay-TV Deal
Multichoice Zambia in partnership with ZNBC has introduced a new pay-television which will allow Zambians to join the digital revolution and enjoy 19 television channels.

The new service, called GOtv service, is part of Zambia’s goal to migrate from analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

MultiChoice Zambia Public Relations officer, Marlon Kananda, said the GOtv will deliver digital television to everyone and enable them experience the digital television revolution in their homes. It supports the Zambian government’s commitment to migrating from analogue to digital by 2015.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 30.06.11)

Zamtel Introduces Easy Top Up
ZAMTEL has rolled out a cost-effective, convenient and easy electronic voucher distribution solution of talk time across the country. The Zamtel Eazy Top Up is aimed at expanding the company’s airtime distribution network, allowing customers across the country to easily access talk time of any amount.

The Zamtel Eazy Top Up is a way of transferring recharge money using a virtual warehouse on the phone and is meant to serve all customers and dealers already selling Zamtel scratch cards

(Source: The Post, 18.05.11)

About the Newsletter
Consumer Watch newsletter is published with the objective of enhancing consumer welfare through sensitisation, information dissemination and capacity building of consumers, business entities and government. While addressing consumer concerns, the newsletter focuses on bringing out issues such as violation of consumer rights and measures to be taken by the relevant authorities to protect stakeholders.

CUTS ARC will strive to support and lobby the Government and the stakeholders to ensure resumption of the process to eventually enact a functional Consumer Protection Law in the country and also establish a functional institutional mechanism to implement the law. This is in line with the changes taking place in other countries in the region in the wake of globalisation and liberalisation. Apart from carrying consumer-related information, the publication will also give an analysis on current consumer concerns in the country.