Zimbabwe’s government proposes mobile network infrastructure sharing
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-2015 (e)
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
- Liquid telecom extends wholesale FttP services to Victoria Falls;
- Brainworks Capital withdraws bid for Telecel;
- TelOne expands fibre footprint, expands WiFi infrastructure in Harare;
- Econet expands m-commerce;
- New ICT policy to be submitted, revising the 2010 plan;
- 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 update includes regulator’s market data to September 2014, telcos’ operating and financial data, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned 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.