By Tawanda Musarurwa
Combined revenues for the country’s three mobile telecommunications companies rose by 121 percent from $375 million to record $828,8 million as upward adjustments in tariffs shielded the sector from inflationary pressures.
This was revealed in the latest Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz)’s sector report for the third quarter.
During the third quarter, there was a 202,7 percent increase in aggregate operating costs from $233,7 million to $707,4 million.
Earlier in the year, Potraz took the decision to move away from a fixed model for determining various tariffs for telecommunications operators to a flexible model.
The new model was meant to improve sustainability of their local telecoms firms’ businesses by taking into account their need for viability and customers’ need for affordable services.
At the time, Potraz said the new tariff model takes into account the “cost of providing services, market trends, economic fundamentals and affordability.”
According to the latest report, on a quarterly comparison, the aggregate Average Revenue per User (ARPU) increased by 96,5 percent to record $15,35 from $7,81 recorded in the previous quarter; the Average Cost per User (ACPU) increased by 91,5 percent to record $10,19 from $5,32; the Average Margin per User (AMPU) also increased by 108,1 percent to record $5,16 from $2,48 recorded in the previous quarter.
Potraz director general Dr Gift Machengete has said despite the upward tariff adjustments, mobile telecommunication services remain affordable.
“I believe that the prices of data are not high. You know why, because our salaries are low. Our salaries are not increasing in accordance with inflation, so what has happened is that last year this time the disposable income was something else now it has been eroded and because of that erosion of the disposable income it now appears as though the data prices are high and people are failing to afford so it’s a question of affordability, people are now failing to afford the data, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s too high,” he said.
“It is high because our disposable incomes have gone down, so I actually think that we have to also do something about the disposable income so that they go up because when you compare our data prices with the data prices of other countries around us we are actually far much below others, but the difference is they have a stable currency and their disposable incomes have not been eroded.”
Meanwhile, the report shows that total investment by the mobile operators increased by 1 865,3 percent to record $31 085 465 from $1 085 465 recorded in the second quarter of 2019.
“The capital expenditure was mainly by Econet who invested in national switching, mainly the upgrading of the core network and radio access network. Telecel made no investment during the period under review,” said Potraz.