BY MISHMA CHAKANYUKA
ZIMBABWE’S mobile network operators recorded a 36% increase in revenue to $1,1 billion in the full year to December 2018 despite a 25% increase in operating costs, the industry regulator has reported.
The country has three licensed operators, two of which are State-owned — NetOne and Telecel and a third which is privately-run, Econet.
A sector report by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) shows that on a quarterly basis revenues were down 13% to $287 million in the quarter to December from $331 million recorded in the third quarter of 2018.
Operating costs amounted to $660,5 million in 2018 from $527,3 million in the previous year.
Annual capital expenditure by mobile operators declined by 41% to $59,5 million from $100 million in 2018.
“The total number of base stations in the country was 8,796 as at 31 December 2018, up from 8,662 recorded in the third quarter following the commissioning of 134 additional base stations. An annual comparison shows that 130 2G base stations, 213 3G base stations and 75 LTE eNode base stations were commissioned in 2018. This has led to improved network population coverage.”
Active mobile subscriptions increased from 12, 7 million in the third quarter of 2018 to 12,9 million for the fourth quarter the same year.
“An annual comparison shows that total active mobile subscriptions declined by 8,4% to reach 12 908 992 from 14 092 104 recorded in 2017; hence, the mobile penetration rate declined by 9,6% to reach 93,1% from 102,7% recorded in 2017”.
“Telecel lost subscribers over the course of 2018 whereas Econet and NetOne recorded gains in their subscriber bases, with Econet maintaining its dominant position,” Potraz said.
Mobile voice traffic increased by 4,1% to 1,32 billion minutes from 1,27 billion in the previous quarter.
“An annual comparison shows that mobile voice traffic grew by 27% to record 4,89 billion minutes in 2018 from 3,85 billion minutes recorded in 2017. The overall growth in mobile voice traffic is mainly attributable to the 26% annual growth in on-net traffic because of promotions.”
Mobile internet and data usage increased by 15,7% to record 7,395TB from 6,104TB recorded in the third quarter of 2018.
“Mobile internet and data usage has been consistently increasing during the course of the years, there was an overall decline in mobile revenues vis-à-vis a growth in operating costs during the quarter under review.”