Zimbabwe’s mobile subscribers down 6.7% in Q2 2020

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  • Mobile subscriptions declined to 12.9m
  • Internet penetration rate declined by 2.4%
  • The decline is attributable to the depressed demand in the economy

Harare – As the country continues to reel from hyperinflation with the world’s second highest annual inflation rate after Venezuela, the total number of active mobile subscriptions declined by 6.7% in the second quarter of 2020 (Q2 2020) to reach 12,798,298 from 13,724,522 in the previous quarter.

In a sector performance report for the period under review, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) said mobile penetration rate also declined by 6.4% to reach 87.8% from 94.2% recorded in the previous quarter.

Zimbabwe with a population of around 16 million, has three mobile operators – Econet, NetOne and Telecel, in order of market share.

Active internet and data subscriptions also declined by 4% to record 8,267,268 from 8,614,009. As a result, the Internet penetration rate declined by 2.4% to reach 56.7% from 59.1% recorded in the previous quarter.

“The decline in active internet subscriptions in the quarter under review may be attributable to the depressed demand in the economy, at both household and industry level.

“COVID-19 had a direct impact on the operations of both the formal and informal sector, thus negatively affecting real disposable incomes,” POTRAZ said.

To keep afloat, telecom operators have resorted to periodic revision of service charges in line with the exchange rate trends. Government has given the operators greenlight to charge for services in line with the existing interbank rate.

As per the POTRAZ report, revenue generated by the mobile telephone networks grew by 45.8% to record ZWL3 billion from ZWL2.1 billion.

“At the same time, total mobile network operating costs grew by 217.7% to record ZWL16.1 billion from ZWL5.1 billion recorded in the previous quarter,” POTRAZ added.

Meanwhile, revenue generated by the fixed telephone network grew by 39.4% to record ZWL430.4 million from ZWL308.9 million while operating cost increased by 44.4% to record ZWL345.6 million form ZWL239.2 million recorded in the previous quarter.

In a forward-looking statement, POTRAZ said the performance of the sector continues to be dependent on the economic environment and expressed optimism that the stabilisation of the exchange rate that is emerging can propel the sector towards growth into the future.

“However, operating cost containment remains crucial for operators to remain profitable especially for those services that are registering reduced demand”.

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