A Quarterly EnewsLetter Vol.8, Issue No. 2, 2012

Editorial Comments

One major objective of firms is to maximise profits at lower costs. Satisfying of clients and providing competitive services at lower price is not optional if the former is to be achieved. At the height of this competition, many consumers have benefited immensely from this competition. Recently, Airtel Zambia launched a promotion dubbed 5X which gives consumers five times the amount of the talk time they use every day free of charge.
According to Airtel Zambia’s Managing Director Fayaz King, customers would get daily targets based on their daily usage and on consumption of the target, customers would get five times free talk time. The promotion is targeted at the entire pre-paid subscriber base which assures five times more talk time than what customers will use while making calls from Airtel to Airtel. The promotion enables customers enrolled on the programme and would be able to receive talk time five times the amount they spent in a day.
This move by Airtel is most welcome and should be emulated by other service providers. However, there is need for service providers to consider investing in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for national development
Church Lauds Ban on Tujilijili
Against all olds, the clergy has thrown her weight on recommending the government’s ban on Tujilijili strong liquor sachets. Council of Churches in Zambia General Secretary Reverend Suzanne Matale said the ban on Tujilijili would help reducing levels of gender-based violence in the nation, sexual abuses, rapes and child molestation.

But Zambia Association of Manufacturers Chief Executive Officer Roseta Mwape said the government’s ban on alcohol sachets does not make economic sense. This comes at the backdrop of the Local Government Minister Professor Nkandu Luo signing a Statutory Instrument to ban street vending and the manufacturing, distribution, importation, sale and consumption of Tujilijili in the country

(Source: The Post, 19.04.12)

Stanchart Chartered Rolls Out Online Services
There is good news for consumers of online banking. Standard Chartered Bank said that online banking clients in Zambia will now access international trade currencies online following the institution’s introduction of 130 global currencies.

The Bank has introduced 130 global currencies to its online banking clients in Zambia, Botswana and Uganda, a service which will enable its clients make currency payments for Africa-Asia and intra-Africa trade relationships faster and executed in a currency of choice. The service cuts the clients’ costs in currency conversions and avoids the inherent risks associated with fluctuating currency rates.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 21.06.12)

Airtel, Multichoice Ink Deal
Many people in Zambia are now subscribing to DSTV channels. However, long queues and other challenges that subscribers have been facing will be a talk of the past. This follows an Airtel partnership with Multichoice Zambia to facilitate the payment of DSTV subscription through Airtel Money.

The partnership would help bridge the financial and technology gap that limits the opportunity that Zambians can benefit from these services. Airtel Money, launched eight months ago, is a service that allows customers to send and receive money using their mobile phone.

Airtel Money has registered more than 220,000 registered customers country-wide who are enjoying access to convenient ways of mobile commerce services such as cash deposits and cash withdraws, money transfers among others

(Source: Times of Zambia, 22.06.12)

Stanbic Slashes Lending Rates
In line with the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) Policy Rate, Stanbic Bank Zambia has reduced its lending rates to nine percent, effectively becoming the bank with the lowest lending rates in the country.

The Bank has raised US$98mn capital which is just two percent short of meeting the BoZ’s revised minimum capital requirement of US$100mn for foreign banks. Three months ago BoZ introduced the Policy Rate which would be used as a reference rate for banks before lending out loans and effectively quashed the Base Lending Rates that all banks had at various rates.

(Source: Times of Zambia, 08.06.12)

CSPR Questions High Mealie-Meal Prices
Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) said it is unfair for Zambians to continue subsidising maize to millers when the cost of mealie-meal has remained high. CSPR Board Chairperson Partner Siabutuba argued that mealie-meal prices have not significantly dropped. The government, through the Food Reserve Agency, has been selling maize to milling companies at a reduced price of US$140 per tonne.

The move to lower maize prices to millers was aimed at addressing the high cost of mealie-meal and also quickly clears the huge stocks of carryover maize the country is holding. Since the decision to lower the cost of maize to milling companies was taken in 2011, some millers reduced the price of mealie-meal.

(Source: The Post, 12.06.12)

CCPC Warns Healthcare Providers on Unfair Practices
As mandated by the Act to protect and enhance competition and consumer welfare in the economy, Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Board of Commissioners has ordered that healthcare providers in the country discontinue operating medical schemes where clients forfeit their money if they do not exhaust it within a specified period and has since recommended to government that such schemes be regulated by a government agency.

The Commission’s view was that the medical schemes appeared to be run like health insurance policies even when they offered no risk cover when their client’s money was exhausted in their medical account. This entailed that consumers were vulnerable to loss in cases where the health providers went out of business.

(Source: www.ccpc.org.zm, 28.06.12)

Snapshots on Consumer Issues

Zambia Wins Kudos for Rejecting GMO Food
A visiting UK-based German scientist Ricarda Steinbrecher, has commended Zambia for resisting genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Steinbrecher, who is a bio-safety risk assessment specialist at UK’s Econexus, was speaking in an interview in Lusaka. She said that GMOs have the potential to threaten the food security of the country contrary to the proponents’ view that GMOs enhance it. She said there was enough evidence that GMOs are harmful to human beings adding that GMOs has many negative social and environmental impacts and must not be allowed in the country.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 12.05.12)

DStv, Investrust Partner
Investrust Bank Plc in collaboration with MultiChoice Zambia has launched payment of DStv subscriptions via the bank’s investnet online banking platform. Investrust Bank Plc spokesman Ackim Mwale said that the launch of DStv InvestNet payments will eliminate the rush that usually arises when customers have to go to payment centres to settle their bills.

Meanwhile, Airtel Zambia has reduced international calling rates to selected destinations. In a statement, Airtel Zambia Marketing Director Navdeep Kapur stated the rates promise to be the most affordable on the market.Kapur stated that Airtel customers would need to enrol through a simple process in order to benefit from the tariffs which were currently on offer.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 08.05.12 & The Post, 24.05.12)

Zamtel Launches 3G Mobile Broadband
Now internet users are benefiting a lot not only from the internet service providers but also from the telecommunication sector. First, it was Airtel who introduced 2G though they have now reached 3G. Zamtel has not been left behind after launching its 3G mobile broadband services to enable subscribers’ supreme access to the internet.

The 3G service comes on the back of the “Soft launch” of the service which took place in February 2012, in which selected few subscribers were given the opportunity to test the 3G working on the Zamtel network.

(Source: Lusaka Times, 27.05.12)

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.