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Zimbabwe - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 31 Aug 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 163

Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation affecting telcos’ revenue

Zimbabwe since 2019 has been hit by significant macro-economic difficulties, a climate-related drought, and the effects of COVID-19. Revenue from the telecom sector came under pressure from a number of recent regulatory measures and taxes imposed by the cash-strapped government, though to alleviate the effects of inflation, mobile service tariffs have been increased three times since mid-2019. While these measures were aimed at helping MNOs to pay for internet bandwidth and equipment with a deteriorating currency, the effect later into 2020 is likely to reduce consumption of services among subscribers. Inflation has become so high that year-on-year revenue comparisons from 2019 are difficult to assess meaningfully.

The three MNOs Econet Wireless, NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe continue to invest in network upgrades, partly supported by government efforts and cash released from the Universal Service Fund.

International bandwidth has improved since fibre links to several submarine cables were established via neighbouring countries. The expansion of 3G and LTE-based mobile broadband services has meant that about 85% of the population has access to the internet. Investment in fixed broadband infrastructure has also resulted in a slow but steady growth in the number of DSL connections, and also fibre subscriptions.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

  • Government asks World bank’s IFC to advise on TelOne and NetOne privatisation;
  • Telcos agree to the government's infrastructure sharing policy;
  • Regulator revokes a number of ISP licenses;
  • TelOne providing satellite broadband with Avanti Communications;
  • Regulator allocates more spectrum to the MNOs to increase capacity as a COVID-19 response;
  • Government enforces m-money interoperability on MNOs, changes m-money tax basis;
  • NetOne refreshes m-money service;
  • Government begins $250 million investment to build 500 mobile towers to serve rural areas;
  • Report update includes the regulator's market data to Q1 2020, telcos' operating and financial data to March 2020, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

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

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