Zimbabwe’s telecoms sector generated revenue in excess of $1 billion and contributed 7,2 % to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, the industry regulator has said.
Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director-general Gift Machengete told the Parliamentary Committee on Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and Courier Services that the sector was on a growth path.
“The telecommunications sector is now one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy, contributing 7,8% to national GDP in 2017. The sector has been experiencing growth in revenues owing to the continued growth in consumption of voice, mobile money and internet and data services. The sector has surpassed the US$1 billion mark in terms of revenues in 2017. Growth has also been realised by the increase in the mobile penetration rate which currently stands at 92% from 25% in 2009,” he said.
“The performance of the postal sector, however, remains in the doldrums both in terms of revenue performance and volumes. The authority is making frantic efforts to revive the sector through projects such as the modern Post Office project, which will leverage on ICTs through e- commerce and e-government to ensure postal sector survival”.
However, the emergence of new technologies has seen a slump in the uptake of postal services in Zimbabwe, threatening viability of traditional courier services provider such as the State-owned Zimpost.
The company remains constrained by limited working capital, and an ever growing debtor’s book, which made it difficult for it to compete with privately-owned courier service providers.
Commenting on claims that the country has some of the highest data tariffs in the region, Machengete said the charges were reflective of a cost environment.
“The general notion is that tariffs in Zimbabwe are the highest in the region, but you will have to appreciate that our circumstances are different when compared to our neighbours in the region. You cannot compare apples with oranges. You have to compare like for like,” he said.
“Indeed, we appreciate that the tariffs are high, but the prevailing telecommunications and internet tariffs were reached after extensive cost studies using the long-run incremental costing models. These studies essentially evaluated the cost of operating a network or rolling out a service and came up with fair tariffs that would ensure business viability and affordability by consumers”.
Potraz is in the process of finalising a strategic plan for the period 2019-2023, which seeks to ensure that government fully leverages on ICT as a key enabler to economic growth.
The strategy is characterised by universal and affordable access to ICT services, profitability of the sector postal, fair completion, high innovation and high cyber security.