Mobile and internet service providers are set to suffer heavy revenue losses amid the internet blockade that came as a result of violent protests that were experienced in the country earlier this week.
The protests came after the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, supported by activists and civic organisations, called for a three-day stay-away following a 150 percent fuel price increase.
The stay-away, however, turned violent after hooligans threatened and beat up those who had ignored the call and turned up for work. Businesses that had opened were also looted while some had their property damaged.
Amid violent protests, there was an internet blackout, which restricted internet based communication by both individuals and businesses. Although internet accessibility has since been restored, social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and YouTube are still restricted from those using mobile phones.
The restriction will have a negative impact on mobile network providers (MNOs), which have been enjoying strong revenue growth. During that period MNOs recorded a 21 percent increase in mobile internet and data usage.
According to Potraz, social media continued to drive mobile data usage with WhatsApp bundles constituting 32 percent of total mobile data usage during the third quarter to September 2018.
The internet shutdown and the continued blockade of social media platform, will thus come as a negative blow to the thriving sector.
Some of the players in the sector include TelOne, NetOne, Liquid Telecoms and Econet. NetOne has a 24 percent data market share, while Telecel had a market share of 4 percent as at 31 August 2018.
Econet, which is the largest telecoms firm in Zimbabwe by assets and value, and accounts for over 72 percent national data traffic share will be the hardest hit.
The company has close to 11 million data subscribers contributing 28 percent of the group’s revenue.
In the half year to 31 August, the company recorded a 56,8 percent revenue growth in data revenue to $98,3 million which means the company makes approximately $500,000 revenue per day from data.
Off shoot company Cassava would also suffer revenue losses as most of its products are tech and data driven.