A Quarterly EnewsLetter Vol.8, Issue No. 3, 2012

Editorial Comments

ZESCO’s Inefficiency doesn’t Merit Hike of Tariffs
Zambia’s leading power utility ZESCO’S inefficiency does not merit a hike of its electricity tariffs. Consumers can accept to pay tariffs reflecting the true cost of electricity production if ZESCO enhances its operational efficiency and reduce pilferage.
Consumers have received this message with great pain that ZESCO has applied for an increase in tariffs for electricity. Going by the complaints in the media, consumers could be said to have been getting a raw deal from ZESCO not worth the money they have been paying. Consumers have been facing unprecedented blackouts and in most cases without being notified. This has resulted in consumers losing valuable property and equipment.
Power is one of the essential commodities that is key to the growth of the economy. Therefore, what is significant for the government to invest heavily so that this sector is powered. Once this is done, many consumers will access electricity which will have sparrow over effects and lessen the cost of doing business in Zambia.
The increase of the tariff should direct benefit consumers. It must be able to reduce power outages among others. Therefore, this proposed increment is not the solution to the already existing problems. We oppose the intention to increase at this moment because this is going to impact adversely not only lower but also big consumers in the industry and manufacturing


ZACA Commends State on Mealie Meal
Mealie Meal is an essential commodity and a staple food in Zambia. However, the increase in prices of this commodity has angered consumers and prompted the government to intervene thereby giving consumers a glimmer of hope.

Recently, government and millers agreed to reduce the price of mealie meal by an average of less than a dollar per K25 kg bag of breakfast and roller meal to stabilise prices of the staple food.

Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) has called on traders to effectively pass on the benefit to consumers. ZACA Executive Secretary Muyunda Ililonga said the move will allow consumers have easy access to the staple food

(Zambia Daily Mail, 21.09.12)

Enforcing Consumer Law
It is one thing to have the law and another to implement it. In the quest to achieve the latter, government has urged the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to enforce the consumer law to deter unscrupulous businesses from selling defective and counterfeit products to consumers.

Eastern Province Minister Charles Banda said that the government has put in place a law which provides for penalties and fines for all those traders and service providers who engage in unfair trading practices in the country.

“This is in an effort to ensure that consumers get value for their money and contribute to national economic development. The law protects people from unscrupulous businesses which sell defective, counterfeit and sub-standard products, among others,” he said.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 20.09.12)

Explain Sugar Price Hike
In unprecedented move, the retail prices of sugar from Zambia Sugar have suddenly skyrocketed leaving questions among consumers as to what was happening and thus seeking government intervention.

At Shoprite outlets where the commodity usually sells the cheapest, a two-kg packet of white spoon sugar is fetching at almost US$3 while the same quantity of the National Milling Company-produced mother’s pride US$2.

The government, through the Ministry of Commerce Trade & Industry had some time back started working on relevant laws for the effective implementation of the new arrangement but now there is deafening silence. Shopping entities, such as Pick n Pay are, however, already operating up to 21:00 hours and perhaps others should just follow suit

(Source: Times of Zambia, 07.09.12)

Ecobank Launches Internet Banking
Improved service delivery should be at the apex of service providers’ goals to consumers. Banks are not exceptional to this. Ecobank Zambia which is a member of the Ecobank Group has launched an upgraded Internet banking service for its retail customers.

Using best-in-class technology, the new system offers Ecobank Zambia’s customers a wider range of transactional activities which include online payments and domestic and international fund transfers at the click of a button.

The member of the leading Pan-African banking network stated that customers, with the new technology, would be able to open a term deposit account and benefit from 24/7 customer support.

(Source: The Post, 06.07.12)

Samsung Launches Galaxy S3 in Zambia
Samsung Electronics has launched what the company is calling a top-of-the-range Galaxy S3 smartphone in Zambia. Analysts opine that a new product will outsell its previous model that helped the South Korean company topple Apple as the world’s largest smartphone maker.

The Galaxy S3, which tracks the user’s eye movements to keep the screen from dimming or turning off while in use, was recently officially launched. The smartphone, running on Google’s Android operating system, boasts a 4.8-inch screen, one of the largest on smartphones ever and the firm expects the new flagship model to outsell its predecessor.

(Source: The Post, 05.07.12)

Zesco to Connect 6,000 Customers
Hardly a day passes by without people complaining of load shedding in Zambia. In a bid to curb situation, the power utility company has embarked on various projects across the country aimed at mitigating the power deficit that has resulted in massive load shedding over the past few months.

Zesco Managing Director Cyprian Chitundu, however, said the company has continued to provide reliable electricity supply required for smooth operations of the country’s industrial sector. Zambia like other countries will continue facing power shortages if no new generation is added to the existing generation capacity.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 02.07.12)

Snapshots on Consumer Issues

Beer Shortage Hits Solwezi
Lovers of beer in Solwezi-North Western Province of Zambia suffered a scant of Mosi and Castle lagers. This follows a critical shortage of beer that has hit Solwezi town. A check at a number of pubs and bars in the mining town showed that there was a shortage of both Mosi and Castle lagers which are manufactured in Zambia by Zambian Breweries. Most people have since resorted to drinking the imported Windhoek, Heineken and other lagers and ciders. And some bar owners in the town have complained of unfair treatment by the Zambian Breweries agents.

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 07.09.12)

Tomato Price Skyrockets 100%
Imagine having a meal with relish without tomato? This is likely to be the situation in Lusaka as the price of tomatoes have been hiked at Soweto City Market, a major shopping area for the lower and middle class residing in Lusaka. Recently, tomato prices went up by 100 percent from as low as US$4 per box to US$10. Previously, tomatoes used to cost US$3. According to Zambia National Farmers Union report, the worst tomato prices for farmers were again experienced in April 2007 and March 2008 when the commodity tumbled down to as low as US$0.133 per kg which was attributed to supply outstripping demand

(Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 04.09.12)

Emirates Introduces Toys for Young Passengers
Emirates, one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, have introduced a new collection of toys onboard for its young customers. The airline recently announced that it had introduced two ranges of toys aimed at making the travel experience for pre-school and older children more entertaining and memorable. It is stated that children from Zambia would join in the fun, following the launch of the airline’s five time a week service from Lusaka to Dubai in February 2013.

(Source: The Post, 19.07.12)

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.