Malawi fines Airtel $ 2.6 million for skimping on phone credit

(Photo: BOUREIMA HAMA / AFP / Getty Images).

By: Sarwar Alam

Malawian regulators on Wednesday (29) fined the local unit of Indian telecommunications giant Bharti Airtel $ 2.6 million for withholding mobile phone credits owed to consumers in one of the world’s busiest countries. poor of the world.

The Competition and Fair Trade Commission imposed a fine of 2.1 billion kwacha ($ 2.6 million) on mobile operator Airtel Malawi for engaging in “unreasonable behavior” in refusing call credits due in connection with a loyalty program.

Airtel Malawi said it would challenge the ruling in court, denying the charges.

It is part of Bharti Airtel Limited, an Indian multinational that operates in 18 countries in Asia and Africa.

The commission’s acting executive director, Apoche Itimu, told a press briefing that the commission launched an investigation into Airtel Malawi on September 16, following several complaints from consumers.

“It has been alleged that Airtel Malawi has stopped automatically crediting customer accounts with monthly bonuses” for airtime, she said.

Instead, consumers were required to request their free airtime on the 14th of each month. Those who didn’t have lost their bonus.

Itimu said the company made a financial gain of around 2.1 billion kwacha “by engaging in unreasonable conduct in the trade of goods and services.”

The commission fined Airtel Malawi the same amount.

Bharti Airtel’s $ 14 billion annual turnover is almost double the size of Malawi’s entire economy.

In a statement, Airtel Malawi chief executive Charles Kamoto “denied the charges”.

“The company is pursuing the case in court,” he said. “Airtel complies and continues to fully comply with relevant and applicable laws. “

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