Airtel Africa is to pay a fine of around $2.6 million for skimping on airtime owed to customers in Malawi. The Malawian regulator on Wednesday fined the local unit of Bharti Airtel in Malawi.
The Competition and Fair Trade Commission imposed a 2.1 billion kwacha ($2.6 million) fine on the mobile operator Airtel Malawi for engaging in “unconscionable conduct” in withholding airtime owed as part of a loyalty programme. Name of the programme – “Khethekhethe” bonus.
Malawi is a landlock country in Southeastern Africa that, formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the west, Tanzania to the north and northeast, and Mozambique to the east, south and southwest.
Airtel extends its service across Asia and Africa. Airtel Malawi is part of Bharti Airtel Ltd that operates in 18 countries of Asia and Africa. The company describes itself as the largest mobile operator in Africa.
The commission’s acting executive director Apoche Itimu told a news briefing that the commission launched an investigation against the African front of the Indian Telecommunication Company on September 16, following several complaints from consumers.
“It was alleged that the Airtel Malawi stopped automatically crediting customer accounts with monthly bonuses of airtime,”– Apoche Itimu
Instead, consumers had to request their free airtime on the 14th of every month. Those who failed to do so lost their bonus.
Itimu said the company made a financial gain of about 2.1 billion kwacha by “engaging in unconscionable conduct in the trade of goods and services”.
Bharti Airtel’s annual revenue of $14 billion is almost double the size of Malawi’s entire economy. Airtel Malawi is the market leader with a market share of 72%.
(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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