Zimbabwe’s top telecoms operator has seen a 35% surge in data usage as people stay at home to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, Techunzipped can exclusively review.
The government closed schools and asked people to work from home where possible last month, after the Southern African nation reported its first case of the virus.
Confirmed cases have risen to 28 and additional restrictions, including a night-time curfew and an extended two weeks lockdown, have been imposed.
Our Sources from the telecom said mobile Internet usage had increased only by around 35% on average since the start of the lockdown, with cities like Harare and Bulawayo recording the highest rise.
However, a source from the leading telecom company said the normal trend was for people to go out on the streets to purchase scratch cards, so with the lockdown, voice usage couldn’t have increased tremendously.
What is not surprising is that Office usage has decreased dramatically the same as wifi hotspots usages in the CBD of Harare and Bulawayo.
“However, data usage may have increased because the usage of over-the-top (OTT) applications like WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype, or any video conferencing for online learning, meetings, and other things would have increased the usage of data,” the source told Techunzipped in a telephone interview.
Demand has skyrocketed for certain online services in particular. Video calls have replaced face-to-face interaction with colleagues, family, and friends alike. More people started using the video-conferencing software Zoom in the first two months of 2020 than in all of 2019. Stay-at-home entertainment is also booming. Record numbers of people are using Steam, a popular online PC game store. At one point this weekend more than 24 million players were logged on at the same time, a 25% jump since February. And online grocery stores (FreshinaBox) are unable to handle the surge in business, with customers waiting for days in virtual lines tens of thousands of people long.
Zimbabwe has about 62% Internet users, the country went under a 6-week lockdown to limit the spread of Covid-19. This meant increased work from home, remote education, and entertainment, all of which is now either being transitioned to home broadband networks or mobile connections. Accordingly, the statistics reveal that at least 95% of Zimbabweans access the internet via their mobile devices using mobile data from mobile network operators such as Econet, Net-One, and Telecel.