TOTAL postal and telecommunication revenue grew 11,2% to $1,15 billion in 2017 driven by an upsurge in the consumption of data and internet in the country.
The growth in the consumption of data and internet was buoyed by an increase in over the top (OTT) services.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
In 2016, total revenue by postal and telecommunication players was $1,02 billion.
Launching the sector report for 2017 yesterday, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general Gift Machengete said mobile operator revenue aided in the overall revenue for the sector improving.
“The revenue had been going down for four years and obviously we indicated it was because of a decline in voice traffic, but as we are getting used to OTT services in the sector, we see now the improvements in terms of revenue which is now starting to go up,” he said.
“We also hope that with ICT innovations coming we might have some innovations which may actually assist and make this increase, upward trend in revenue go even higher. But, that growth is attributed to the growth of mobile internet and data usage as well as mobile money.”
Mobile operator revenue increased by 17,6% to $849,88 million in the period under review from $722,93 million in 2016.
Mobile money subscriptions increased by 42,5% to reach 4 706 778 by the end of 2017 up from 3 303 188 in 2016.
The value of transactions in cash-ins, cash-out and cross-network transfers was $2 928 350 750 last year from $3 210 794 375 in 2016, largely due to a decline in cash-based transactions, on the back of cash shortages.
Mobile data and internet usage increased by 89,8% to 15,4 billion megabytes by the end of 2017, from 8,1 billion megabytes recorded at the end of 2016.
Of the installed 100 000 megabits per second (Mbps) capacity in international incoming bandwidth, there was a 46% uptick to 47 668Mbps.
Machengete said OTT applications were mainly driving data usage as people are opting for cheaper ways to communicate. WhatsApp traffic constituted 47% of the total data bundles purchased in 2017, according to Potraz.
With the rise of data usage, voice traffic continued its downward trend and declined a further 5,7% to 4 400 994 563 minutes by the end of 2017 from 4 666 909 037 in 2016.
“Industry growth continues to be driven by internet and data. Usage traffic for internet and data services is expected to continue rising. This will be largely spurred by innovation related to non-traditional business models such as the internet of things,” Machengete said.
“Other government driven initiatives such as e-government, telemedicine and e-learning as well as the roll out of community information centres through the Universal Service Fund, will also help boost uptake and usage of data and internet services.”
The mobile penetration rate increased by 7,9 percentage points to 102,7% but that was in reference to people owning more than one smart phone rather than everyone owning a smart phone.
Machengete said talks were underway to review duties of smartphones in light of the growth of mobile data and