Parliament - Effective regulation was needed to address high call and data costs in South Africa, officials from the telecommunications and postal services department said on Tuesday.

Briefing MPs during public hearings on the cost to communicate, department acting director-general Joe Mjwara said mobile operators were abusing their market dominance by charging consumers high prices for calls and data.

“It is in the nature of human being, if they are given unfettered powers they will abuse that power…in their selfish interest,” Mjwara said.

He said the market was characterised by ineffective competition and scarce resources, including spectrum.

Mjwara said while call costs have been reduced through regulation, consumers still cough up too much money for data, adding that operators were making up the shortfall resulting from the voice call reduction costs by charging more for data.

“The fact that this hearing has been convened again…bear testimony that high prices that dominated voice calls…have now been shifted to data services.”

Mobile operators are expected to brief MPs on Wednesday.