Data and Internet Services Continue Driving Telecoms Industry Growth

The Zimbabwe telecommunications sector performance remains dependent on the economic environment for its development.

According to POTRAZ, data and internet services will continue to drive industry growth “in bundle data usage constitutes 91.8% of total mobile internet”. This is a significant amount, though it went down with 1.7% from 93.5% in the previous quarter. The use of WhatsApp voice and video calling now surrogates for traditional voice calling by business and individuals.

The data of the market share of internet and data traffic proposes that NetOne gained 4.8% market share in line with the growth of the internet and data usage on their network. Econet and Telecel have lost a market share of 3.2% and 1.6% respectively. The shift towards telecommuting and e-learning will drive demand for data and accelerate the voice-data substitution.

The use of Over-the-Top services, such as WhatsApp, is expected to grow in the current economic environment as consumers cut back on communication expenditure. The principal cause of the decline in letter volumes has been the substitution of paper communication by electronic methods (e-substitution). E-commerce needs to be supported as it is a pillar for postal reform.

Mobile money services are expected to continue playing a key role of bridging the financial divide by providing safe, secure and cheap financial services in areas where many Zimbabweans have no access to formal banking systems. Volumes of mobile money payments are expected to maintain an upward trend due to the significant increase in the number of financial services offered on mobile money platforms as well as the implementation of interoperability following the enactment of Statutory Instrument 80 of 2020 on Mobile Money Interoperability.

Although other sectors recorded a decline in productivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telecoms recorded a remarkable increase. This can be attributed to a shift from physical work stations, to virtual offices where data and connectivity are constantly needed. It is also important to note that an increase in data tariffs has become a burden on ordinary Zimbabweans who are unable to afford.