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Zimbabwe’s telecoms weighed down by beleaguered economy

By , Zimbabwe correspondent
Zimbabwe , 05 Oct 2022

A drop in the number of active internet and data subscriptions in Zimbabwe, as well as in the overall internet penetration rate, shows just how much of an impact the country’s struggling economy is having on telecommunications.

This is according to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), which, in its sector performance report for Q2 2022, stated that the total number of active internet and data subscriptions declined by 3.5% to reach 9,293,560, from 9,644,271 in the first quarter of 2022.

The report added that the internet penetration rate declined by 1.6% to reach 61.3% from 62.9%.

Telecommunications services providers increased their tariffs, having secured approval by the regulator, as the country’s local currency faces intense pressure to be sustained.

The operating costs for IAPs grew by 55.9% to record ZWL11.93-billion from ZWL7.65-billion recorded in the previous quarter.

The total number of active mobile subscriptions declined by 2% to reach 14,006,034 in Q2 of 2022, from 14,289,085 recorded in the first quarter of the year. The mobile penetration rate declined by 1% to reach 92.3% from 93.3%.

ICT expert Brighton Musonza said: “The draw-down on economic income means personal care spending has shrunk. The tariffs have gone up and the extra $50 levy on the imported device has added an extra cost.”

Economist Gift Mugano added: “This is a shred of clear evidence that we don't have economic stability. Let us accept it as it is so that we proffer the right solutions. It's only sick patients who knock on doctors' doors. Our economy is sick! Let us accept it as it is and get the remedies. The telecommunication sector is capital intensive and requires technological upgrades continuously - so it’s unsustainable for the sector to rely on the free-falling local currency.”

Zimbabwe mobile network services providers continue to struggle to secure foreign exchange required for network upgrades, software license fees, and fuel for base stations that rely on generators to operate.

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