Data is the new oil in Zimbabwe: Part 1

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Not so long, people used to communicate using texts and voice calls. That was before smart phones swarmed our universe. Years gone by, the internet penetration rate is continuously increasing globally.

 It is due this increase in the internet use; mobile operators came with different data bundles for their customers. This has helped a lot as customers would by daily, weekly or monthly data bundles.

However due to economic hardships over the couple of years, data in Zimbabwe has become very expensive. A recent research has shown that a monthly average cost of mobile data in Zimbabwe is pegged at $25 per gigabyte.

This has put Zimbabwe on the map for the wrong reasons as we currently sit as the second country to Equatorial Guinea’s most expensive data which goes for $35.47 per gigabyte.

These economic hardships have never made internet subscribers in Zimbabwe not to use the internet, instead there has been a high internet usage in the country mainly on social media with WhatsApp bundles constituting 32% of total mobile data usage as Q3-2018 and twitter which has been become the main source for news.

Despite all that, it has to be noted that internet penetration is still on the rise. According to an abridged annual postal and telecommunications sector performance report by POTRAZ (Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe), the total number of active internet subscriptions increased by 7% growth in active internet subscriptions from 7,197,279 recorded in the second quarter of 2018 to reach 7,690,13.

As a result, the internet penetration rate increased 3.5% increase in the internet penetration rate from 51.9% recorded in the second quarter of 2018 to 55.4%. there was also 21% jump in mobile internet usage from 6,104TB recorded in the second quarter of 2018 to record 7,395TB.

The decline in postal and courier volumes over the years is attributable to e-substitution, which is the substitution of traditional paper communication for electronic methods such as emails and WhatsApp, Twitter and Viber among others.

Dial-Up, WiMAX and CDMA were the three categories which are continously recording a decline in active subscriptions. Dial Up was phased out by the Internet Access Providers in 2017.

WiMAX and CDMA internet have faced competition from other fixed internet technologies such as ADSL and Fibre. Demand for internet and data services has been consistently growing.

 LTE use is expected to continue improving as the LTE coverage and the smartphone penetration grows, with all local Mobile Network Operator adding more base stations, Econet being the leading horse with 68.1% market share of mobile base stations.

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