Zimbabwe’s mobile telcos’ revenue for the first quarter of 2018 decreased by 5,8 percent to $244,7 million compared to $259,711 million recorded in the same period last year as consumers continue to opt for over-the-top (OTT) services that are relatively cheaper.
According to figures from regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), mobile revenues have been consistently growing in 2017, before taking a knock in the first quarter of 2018.
Mobile penetration rate decreased by 18,1 percent to 84,6 percent following a 16,8 percent decrease in active mobile subscriptions which forced operators to cancel any active lines that have not been operational in the past three months.
Total mobile voice traffic decreased by 1 percent to 1,1 billion minutes in the period under review to 1,12 billion minutes recorded in the last quarter of 2017 as voice continues to decline as customers use internet based calling services such as Skype, Viber, Facebook and Whatsapp calls.
This comes as the active internet penetration rate increased by 1,3
percent to reach 52,1 percent during the quarter under review from 50,8 percent recorded the comparable prior year period while active internet subscriptions increased by 3,6 percent.
Industry experts contend data and internet revenue will make a significant contribution towards the sector’s earnings with the rise in internet usage and social media.
Voice is slowly taking a back seat, while data and internet services are taking over as the main driver for sector growth.
The trend is similar with fixed
telephone services where data and internet revenue rose by 3,7 percent while voice revenue contribution declined by 2,6 percent in line with a 15 percent reduction in fixed voice traffic.
“The exponential growth trend in data consumption is expected to continue unabated,” said POTRAZ in its sector performance report for the first quarter of 2018.
“This will be largely driven by the introduction of new applications and services in the market such as internet video, especially as operators are now looking at participating in the media space.
“Accordingly, the industry is likely to see the contribution of data and internet to total revenue outpacing the voice revenue contribution,” said Potraz.
On the other hand, mobile money services continued to experience growth in the quarter as the service continues to gain traction on
the back of the persisting banknote shortages.
Mobile money subscriptions during the period rose 6,35 percent to 5,5 million compared to 4,7 million during the same quarter year. Netone experienced the biggest growth in active mobile money subscriptions of 49 percent when compared to the last quarter 2017.
“In absolute terms, however, Econet increased its subscribers by 272 605, while NetOne and Telecel increased by 26 028 and 214 respectively,” said POTRAZ.
In the outlook, the regulator contends revenue will continue to grow on increase in data usage while mobile money will remain an integral part of the sector bridging the financial divide by providing safe, secure, convenient and cheap financial services in areas where many Zimbabweans have no access to formal banking systems.
“Mobile money services are expected to continue playing a key role as 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,” said POTRAZ.