The telecommunications sector recorded $24,7 billion in revenue for the second quarter of 2021, which was 19,2 percent ahead of previous quarter on growth recorded across segments.
Mobile operators’ revenue jumped 22 percent to $16,9 billion while that for fixed telephone network was 18 percent ahead of previous quarter to settle at $1,6 billion.
Internet access providers recorded a 10 percent revenue increase to $6 billion from $5,4 billion in the previous quarter.
However, the revenue growth also comes amid growing operating costs due to a challenging business environment. At $14 billion, total operating costs were also on the increase, rising by 12 percent from $12,5 billion recorded in the first quarter.
The postal and telecommunications sectors have not been spared from current challenges in the economy such as inflation, unavailability of credit, reduced consumer spending amongst other challenges.
Regulator, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) director general, Dr Gift Machengete, however, highlighted that besides the general factors, there are sector-specific challenges bedeviling that operators face such as over-taxation, legacy debts and unavailability of foreign currency amongst others.
“Unlike other services that may have alternative local supply, the provision of telecommunications relies heavily on imports mainly in the form of equipment and software licenses which need to be upgraded from time to time.
“The shift to the auction based foreign currency market system seemingly eased inflationary pressures but the allocated foreign currency has not been sufficient to meet all network maintenance, upgrade and investment requirements.
“The high cost of International Internet Connectivity remains a challenge as Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, accessing bandwidth from undersea cables via Mozambique and South Africa,” he said in an update for the quarter under review.
During the quarter under review, active mobile telephone subscriptions increased by 3,9 percent to 13,5 million while mobile penetration rate rose 3,5 percentage points to 91,3 percent from 8,8 percent.
The total number of active Internet and data subscriptions increased by 1,9 percent to 9,2 million in as Internet penetration rate increased by 1,2 percentage points to 62,3 percentage from 61,1 percent in the previous quarter.
Figures from POTRAZ show that active fixed telephone lines decreased by 1,7 percent to 245,322 in the second quarter from 249,486 recorded in the first quarter of 2021. Fixed tele-density remained at 1,7 percent.
For the second quarter under review, there was a general growth in internet and data usage. Mobile Internet and data traffic increased by 7,2 percent to 23,436 Terabytes while used international incoming bandwidth capacity also increased by 3,8 percent.
“Internet and data traffic is expected to continue growing due to the increased adoption of e learning, telecommuting and e-conferencing amongst other services,” said Dr Machengete.
Performance by postal courier services was also on the increase as total revenue generated rose 28,3 percent to $344,9 million from $267,8 million recorded in the first quarter although operating costs increased by 18,4 percent to $337,8 million in the previous quarter.
During the quarter under review, volumes for postal and courier services rose by 20,3 percent to record 581,450 items from 483,391 items in the first quarter of 2021 and volumes are to pick up as the ease of channeling courier items to and from several destinations improves post-lockdown.
The sector continues to play a critical role in keeping the economy running in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic by providing business-critical connectivity and resilience, facilitating work-from-home arrangements, e-banking, e-commerce, as well as keeping individuals and societies connected and informed, with access to essential services during mandated social isolation.
Said Dr Machengete: “This has, however, resulted in an unparalleled surge in the use of the Internet in providing e-services, among which e-learning, e-shopping, e-worshiping and e-health would quickly come to mind.
“Indeed, the pandemic has shone a light on the urgent need for accelerating digital transformation. Never before in our lifetime have circumstances changed so fast, and has there been a greater need to adapt.”