Zimbabwe’s economy has seen a downturn since the fractious elections of July 2013, resulting in a significant fall in GDP growth until recovery returned in 2017. The contribution to GDP from the telecom sector fell steadily as a result. Sector revenue has also come under pressure from a number of recent regulatory measures and taxes imposed by the cash-strapped government. Nevertheless, the telecom sector shows some promise, particularly from the mobile sector where active mobile penetration has increased rapidly, reaching 93% by early 2019. The three mobile network operators Econet Wireless, NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe continue to invest in network upgrades to support data services and their fast-expanding m-commerce and m-banking facilities. Telecel was recently acquired by the government from VEON, and the financial demands required for investment has jeopardised resources potentially available to the incumbent telco TelOne, (formerly PTC), which still holds a de-facto monopoly on fixed-line services in the country.
The government in April 2019 outlined its plans to merge TelOne and NetOne and sell off a majority stake in the operator as part of a wider plan to offset state debt.
Limitations in international bandwidth for the landlocked country for many years held back development of the internet and broadband sectors, but this has changed after fibre optic links to several submarine cables were established via neighbouring territories. The expansion of 3G mobile broadband services across the country, and the more recent efforts to extend LTE services, have 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 in the 700MHz band, continues. In addition, since mid-2018 the government and regulator have considered implementing a technology-neutral regime in a bid to ease licensee investment in emerging technologies, including 5G.
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.
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Number of pages 64
Last updated 2 May 2019
Analyst: Henry Lancaster
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