Why Zimbabweans are most likely to switch mobile providers?


Eyetro Digital took a survey and highlighted the top reasons why most Zimbabwean mobile subscribers are likely to change mobile providers.

This article will look at key aspects which are the services offered by the three mobile services providers, Econet Wireless, Netone and Telecel Zimbabwe.


These key aspects have to do with mobile data and voice services provided as well as mobile money services and promotions.


The country’s mobile subscribers are looking for cheaper data prices to the extent that large-scale consumer activist movements are being formed.

Such and other campaigns have had some influence on the industry to lower data tariffs with the greatest impact being in the network technology layer which is owned either by Telcos, vendors or other tech players.

The price of data is the most important factor influencing control. Zimbabwe’s Telecoms regulator, Potraz, noted that “the mobile Internet data usage decreased by 0.18% to record 5.22 million GB in the first quarter of 2018 from 5.23 million GB recorded in the last quarter of 2017.”

Other factors such as the quality of the network for internet access, availability of 4G, the quality of customer service, mobile money services and device price are also important.

When it comes to customer retention, value for money for access to data and the internet trumps everything across all age groups, geographic areas (rural and urban) and gender.

Zimbabwean mobile subscribers are looking for cheaper data prices to the extent that one person is found of having two or more sim cards pressurising to wait for mostly data promotions a provider would introduce with low data tariffs and flexible on-net voice calls plans.

In relation to data services, most people seem to have a bias towards Netone. The study has however not determined whether this is based on fact or speculation.

As a result, there has been a common scenario where one sticks with Netone for data service even for a ‘Whatsapp’ account registered under Econet. The general understanding is that Netone’s data service is faster and cheaper compared to the other though it is debatable.

Econet Vs Netone
Image:Beven Mkeya

On the other side, one can establish that Econet remains the popular face as far as mobile network connectivity is concerned.

In response to consumer data demands, mobile network operators slashed data rates and Potraz has highlighted that “the active internet penetration rate increased by 1.3% to reach 52.1% in the first quarter of 2018 from 50.8% recorded in the last quarter of 2017 following a 3.6% increase in active internet subscriptions.”

The quality of the network with respect to internet provision, the availability of 4G/LTE coverage, mobile money services and usage of the network by family and friends were found to be the key drivers for consumers choosing a mobile operator.

The significant cultural and ethnic diversity in Zimbabwe and the tendency to coordinate the choice of an operator among families and friends implies that brand and marketing techniques must be able to appeal to targeted segments.

Almost every operator in the country has launched discount bundles and tariff plans that target different age groups. Just today Telecel introduced its new data bundles with a hope that the operator will gain market share in the industry. These packages can be a strong differentiator in the market, influencing buyer behaviour through social media platforms.

The operator landscape is facing a difficult challenge of balancing consumer perceptions with respect to the price of data and the need for further network investments.

The scenario is not all that gloomy for new smartphones entering the market as consumers prefer to buy new phones overused because of new Smartphone providers that are coming into the country, with affordable payment plans.

The rate of mobile technology evolution is increasing, and new applications are emerging that attract an increasingly technologically savvy Zimbabwean consumer base.

These factors, along with the mobile operators’ strategy of subsidising phones in the pre-paid market, is expected to maintain the dominance in the new phone market over the used one.


Econet Wireless through its mobile money service, Ecocash enjoys the largest market share compared to the One Wallet and Telecash services offered by NetOne and Telecel respectively.

 Mobile Money in Zimbabwe

Econet’s mobile money service penetration has been emerged to be key to its dominance in the telecoms industry. Resultantly Econet’s customer base has registered massive growth in the face of prevailing cash shortages where people have now quickly adopted digital transaction services.


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