Zimbabwe - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Market Insights and Statistics

Executive summary

Regulator loses patience with Telecel, revoking its licence

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Zimbabwe’s telecommunications market. Subjects covered include:

  • The impact of the economic and political crisis;
  • Key statistics;
  • Market and industry overviews;
  • Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
  • Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
  • Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
  • Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
  • Infrastructure development;
  • Mobile voice and data markets;
  • Average Revenue per User (ARPU);
  • Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile);
  • Internet and broadband development and growth, including 3G mobile;
  • Broadband services and pricing trends.

Zimbabwe’s economy continues to recover from a decade of recession under gross mismanagement by the country’s political leaders. The normalisation of Zimbabwe’s economy is reflected in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) forecast of continuous annual GDP growth at around 4% from 2014 onwards. Despite the overall economic difficulties in recent years, the telecom sector has shown considerable promise since the government allowed foreign currencies as alternative legal tender. Mobile penetration has increased more than seven-fold within four years and broke the 100% penetration barrier in 2013 on the back of 3G mobile broadband subscriptions.

The three mobile networks Econet, NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe are investing in network upgrades to support data services and their fast-expanding m-commerce and m-banking facilities.

NetOne’s parent, TelOne (formerly PTC) still holds a de-facto monopoly on fixed-line services in the country. The government is planning to privatise up to 60% of TelOne and NetOne, either through an IPO or a strategic partnership with a foreign investor. TelOne has been awarded the country’s fourth mobile licence but hasn’t launched a service yet.

Limitations in international bandwidth for the landlocked country for many years held back development of the internet and broadband sectors, but this has changed since fibre optic links to several submarine cables have been established via neighbouring territories. Massive expansion of 3G mobile broadband services across the country has meant that more than half of the population now has access to the internet. The first commercial LTE services were launched in 2013, while investment in LTE technologies, for which the regulator has assigned spectrum, continues.

Estimated market penetration rates in Zimbabwe’s telecoms sector – end-2014

Market
Penetration rate
Mobile
128%
Fixed
2%
Internet
64%

(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

Market highlights:

Regulator reduces mobile voice tariffs effective from January 2015; ICT Ministry revokes Telecel’s licence for failing to pay $137.5 million debt and licence fee; TelOne providing satellite broadband with Avanti Communications; renegotiated USF contribution hampering the regulator's ability to resource $62 million in mobile and broadband projects; Telecel Zimbabwe launches Telecash mobile money service; government increases licensing tax, imposes additional levies and a customs tax on mobile handset sales; mobile and broadband market continue strong growth; TelOne and NetOne privatisation planned; fourth mobile licence in progress; report includes regulator’s market data to September 2014, telcos’ operating and financial data, recent market developments.

Companies covered in this report:

TelOne; NetOne; Econet; Telecel; TeleAccess; Afritell; Liquid Telecom; DataOne; Powertel Communications; Telco Internet; Broadlands Networks; Aquiva; Africa Online; ComOne; Ecoweb; iWay Africa (MWEB); Zimbabwe Online (ZOL); Zimbabwe Internet Service Provider Association (ZISPA); Telecontract; Dandemutande (uMax); Aptics.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
    • 2.1 Country overview (economy)
  • 3. Telecommunications market
    • 3.1 Overview of Zimbabwe’s telecom market
  • 4. Regulatory environment
    • 4.1 Sector Reform Policy 1996
    • 4.2 Posts and Telecommunications Act 2000
    • 4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation
      • 4.3.1 SNO licence
    • 4.4 Regulatory authority
      • 4.4.1 POTRAZ
    • 4.5 Licence fees
    • 4.6 Tariffs
    • 4.7 Interception of Communications Bill
    • 4.8 New nationalisation law 2008
    • 4.9 New ICT Strategy 2010
    • 4.10 New draft ICT Bill
    • 4.11 International gateways, interconnection
    • 4.12 Value-added tax (VAT)
    • 4.13 Universal Service Fund (USF)
    • 4.14 Fibre trenching fees
    • 4.15 Satellite access fees
    • 4.16 Subscriber registration
    • 4.17 Per-second billing
  • 5. Fixed network operators in Zimbabwe
    • 5.1 TelOne
      • 5.1.1 Privatisation
      • 5.1.2 Fixed-line infrastructure
      • 5.1.3 Fixed-line statistics
      • 5.1.4 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
      • 5.1.5 National fibre backbone
    • 5.2 TeleAccess Zimbabwe
    • 5.3 Afritell
  • 6. International infrastructure
    • 6.1 TelOne
    • 6.2 Liquid Telecom (Econet)
    • 6.3 Other carriers
  • 7. Broadband and internet market
    • 7.1 Overview
      • 7.1.1 Internet statistics
    • 7.2 Public Internet access locations
    • 7.3 Data carriers
      • 7.3.1 Africom Zimbabwe
      • 7.3.2 DataOne, SatNet
      • 7.3.3 Powertel Communications
      • 7.3.4 Telco Internet
      • 7.3.5 Broadlands Networks
      • 7.3.6 Aquiva
    • 7.4 Zimbabwe’s ISP market
      • 7.4.1 Africa Online Zimbabwe
      • 7.4.2 ComOne
      • 7.4.3 Ecoweb
      • 7.4.4 iWayAfrica (MWEB)
      • 7.4.5 Zimbabwe Online (ZOL)
    • 7.5 Zimbabwe Internet Exchange (ZINX)
    • 7.6 Broadband in Zimbabwe
      • 7.6.1 ADSL
      • 7.6.2 Fibre
      • 7.6.3 Wireless broadband
      • 7.6.4 WiMAX
      • 7.6.5 WiFi
      • 7.6.6 Mobile broadband
      • 7.6.7 Satellite broadband
    • 7.7 VoIP
    • 7.8 E-commerce
    • 7.9 E-learning
  • 8. Mobile communications
    • 8.1 Overview of Zimbabwe’s mobile market
      • 8.1.1 Mobile statistics
      • 8.1.2 SIM card registration
      • 8.1.3 700MHz spectrum auction
      • 8.1.4 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • 8.1.5 Regulatory measures
      • 8.1.6 Spectrum auction
    • 8.2 Major mobile operators
      • 8.2.1 Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ)
      • 8.2.2 NetOne
      • 8.2.3 Telecel Zimbabwe
    • 8.3 Fourth mobile licence
    • 8.4 Mobile data services
    • 8.5 Short Message Service (SMS)
    • 8.6 Third generation (3G)
      • 8.6.1 Econet
      • 8.6.2 Telecel
      • 8.6.3 NetOne
    • 8.7 Long-term Evolution (LTE)
    • 8.8 Mobile banking services
    • 8.9 Satellite mobile
  • 9. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Zimbabwe – 2014
  • Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2014
  • Table 3 – Internet provider statistics – 2014
  • Table 4 – Internet user statistics – 2014 (e)
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2014 (e)
  • Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 7 – TelOne tariffs by call type – 2009 - 2014
  • Table 8 – historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Zimbabwe – 1999 - 2004
  • Table 9 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Zimbabwe – 2005 - 2015
  • Table 10 – International bandwidth – 2000 - 2014
  • Table 11 – Internet users and penetration rate in Zimbabwe – 2000 - 2014
  • Table 12 – Fixed-line internet subscribers and penetration rate in Zimbabwe – 2000 - 2015
  • Table 13 – Fixed-line broadband subscribers and penetration rate in Zimbabwe – 2001 - 2014
  • Table 14 – Ecoweb broadband subscribers – 2012 - 2014
  • Table 15 – Ecoweb revenue – 2013 - 2014
  • Table 16 – ZOL broadband pricing – 2009; 2012
  • Table 17 – ZOL unlimited broadband pricing, residential vs. business – 2014
  • Table 18 – TelOne ADSL pricing – 2012; 2014
  • Table 19 – ADSL broadband subscribers – 2012 - 2015
  • Table 20 – ZOL WiFi hotspot pricing – 2015
  • Table 21 – Active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2009 - 2014
  • Table 22 – Mobile market revenue – 2013 - 2014
  • Table 23 – Base stations in service – September 2004
  • Table 24 – Historic - Mobile subscriptions and penetration rate in Zimbabwe – 1999 - 2004
  • Table 25 – Mobile subscriptions and penetration rate in Zimbabwe – 2005 - 2015
  • Table 26 – Active mobile subscriptions in Zimbabwe – September 2014
  • Table 27 – Operator share of active mobile subscriptions – September 2014
  • Table 28 – Operator share of active mobile subscriptions – 2013 - 2014
  • Table 29 – Regulated mobile tariffs – January 2015
  • Table 30 – Econet Wireless financial data – 2010 - 2014
  • Table 31 – Econet Wireless data revenue – 2010 - 2014
  • Table 32 – Econet Wireless subscribers – 2010 - 2014
  • Table 33 – NetOne mobile subscribers – 2011 - 2014
  • Table 34 – Telecel mobile subscribers – 2011 - 2014
  • Table 35 – Econet Wireless EcoCash subscribers – 2011 - 2014
  • Table 36 – Econet wireless EcoCash revenue – 2013 - 2014
  • Table 37 – Mobile money market data – 2013 - 2014
  • Chart 1 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Zimbabwe – 2005 – 2015
  • Chart 2 – Mobile subscriptions and penetration rate in Zimbabwe – 2005 - 2015
  • Chart 3 – Econet Wireless financial data – 2010 – 2014
  • Exhibit 1 – Map of Zimbabwe
  • Exhibit 2 – One million dollars per minute

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