The Zimbabwe telecoms industry has seen an accelerated decline in revenues this year, putting at risk spending on crucial next generation network equipment by the operators.
Telecom service revenue has decreased by 9,7 percent in 2017 to $179,8 million in the first quarter to March from $199,2 million recorded in the previous quarter, signifying the negative impact Over-The-Top services have had on operators.
The telecoms industry has been hit by a combination of sluggish economic conditions and a fall in traditional revenues streams such as voice charges. As a result, companies like Telone have been forced to cut or suspend dividends while they harbour cash to cover balance sheets carrying too much debt.
In its postal and telecommunications sector performance report, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) said “The anticipated overall impact on revenue performance is expected to continue unless operators come up with innovative ideas to deal with the impact of OTTs on their revenues,” .
This comes at a time when the voice market is nearing saturation, while internet services show strong growth. Active mobile money subscribers declined 1,6 percent to 3 251 784 in the first quarter from 3 303 188 recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016.
By the end of the first quarter, mobile internet data usage increased by 4,7 percent to record 2 688 410GB from 2 567 401GB recorded in the previous quarter. Zimbabwe has since dollarization, recorded an exponential growth in internet penetration. As the uptake of internet services stood at 1,3 percent in 2008.
In the quarter under review there was a 1.9 percent growth in mobile subscriptions 4 801 762 from 4 712 410 recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Econet recorded 0,5 percent increase to 6 390 232 in the period under review from 6 360 904 recorded in the previous quarter. Telecel prepaid subscribers declined by 1,3% to 1 766 995 from 1 789 407 registered in the fourth quarter of last year ,however Telecel registered a massive growth in post-paid subscribers of 13,1% to 18 326 from the previous quarters of 2016 .
On the other hand, NetOne recorded 1,9 percent increase of active mobile subscriptions to 4 801 762 from 4 712 410 recorded in the last quarter of 2016. Netone post-paid subscribers increased by 6,5% from 38 133 to 40 606.
Active mobile money subscribers declined 1,6 percent to 3 251 784 in the first quarter from 3 303 188 recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016.Active mobile subscriptions totalled 12 977 315 in the quarter under review.
The Regulator said mobile internet data usage increased by 4,7 percent to record 2 688 410GB from 2 567 401GB recorded in the previous quarter.