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Zim mobile firms lose subscribers as economy falters

By , Journalist
Zimbabwe , 10 Jul 2019

Zim mobile firms lose subscribers as economy falters

Zimbabwean mobile operators are losing subscribers, with the telecommunications industry watchdog citing widespread depressed demand in the economy as well as rationalisation of promotional offerings by some telcos.

NetOne lost 20.4% of its subscribers, while Econet and Telecel Zimbabwe dropped 1% and 1.8% of their network users respectively.

In its Q1 2019 industry report, the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) said "active mobile subscriptions declined by 6% to record 12.1 million" during the period under review.

This resulted in a marked decline of about 9.8% in Zimbabwe's mobile penetration rate - from 93.1% to 83.3%. The decline in active mobile subscriptions also impacted mobile voice traffic volumes.

Zimbabwe's economy continues to face significant challenges including inflation -which is now at 97.7%, and shortages of foreign currency.

Potraz added: "Decline of 4% in mobile voice traffic from 1.467 billion to 1.404 billion minutes."

Although utilised mobile voice minutes are on the decline, the sector has recorded "substantial increase in mobile internet/data usage of 19.2% from 8,559TB to 10,202TB".

This is despite a 3.3% decline in active internet subscriptions to 8.4 million from 8.7 million. This also affected Zimbabwe's internet penetration rate which has fallen by 5% to 57.9%.

"The decline in active mobile subscriptions is reflective of the general depressed demand in the economy," said the Potraz report.

It also adds: "A number of promotions were also modified in the quarter under review; the reduction in benefits could also have led to a decline in multi-SIM usage thus negatively affecting the total active subscriber base."

Analysts at IH Securities said on Wednesday that "data consumption increased in (Econet full year to end February) as online activity was spurred by a series of events in CY 2018, including the elections, the post-election violence and monetary reforms".

This is despite "the January internet shutdown" which was ruled unlawful by Harare courts

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