Mobile data usage in Zimbabwe increased by 89% in 2017

Mobile data usage in Zimbabwe nearly doubled to 15,3 Terabytes in 2017 and it is now expected that this trend of stronger Internet usage will continue, underpinned by new business models riding on internet of things (IoT) platforms as well as booming e-commerce facilities.

Zimbabwe now has an internet penetration rate of about 50%, largely propped up by mobile internet through operators that include Econet Wireless and state owned telcos NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe. There are also a host of internet service providers such as Liquid, state owned TelOne and Dandemutande among others.

Owing to this high uptake of internet and data usage, tech start-ups have been ramping up innovations, with a few of these already pausing disruptions on the local market through provision of services such as media, fintech and e-commerce among others.

"[Telecommunications] industry growth continues to be driven by internet and data. Usage traffic for internet and data services is expected to continue rising," The Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) said on Thursday, 15 March 2018, in an industry report.

Some notable highlights from the report include:

  • Used incoming international bandwidth capacity also increased by 46.4% to 47.779 Mbps.

  • Active mobile subscriber numbers in Zimbabwe, which increased by 9.4% to 14 million in 2017, had helped to push up the total mobile internet usage for the year.

"The total number of active internet subscriptions by 3.7% to reach 6.9 million. As a result the internet penetration rate increased by 0.8% to reach 50.8% ... fibre internet registered the highest growth in active subscriptions of 59.7% to reach 31 455 in 2017," added the report.

Zimbabwe's internet service providers have also phased out connectivity through Dial-Up platforms while CDMA and Wi-Max connectivity platforms have been on the decline owing to competition from other fixed internet technologies such as ADSL and Fibre.

In 2017, revenue for Zimbabwe's internet service providers increased by 17.8% to $186.8 million although their investments for the year was down 1.8% at $38.8 million. Liquid Telecom accounts for about 50% of the market share by revenue followed by state owned TelOne which has a market share of about 22%.

"Growth in the use of Internet of Things (IoT) applications will take center stage, driven by consumer appetite for digital solutions. This will be largely spurred by innovation related to non traditional business models," adds the report.

Zimbabwean mobile companies have had to embrace instant messaging and social media platforms, coming up with access bundle options in a bid to grow revenues from data usage by network users. Other operators such as Econet Wireless have developed media and other tech offerings to maximise data utilisation.


Cover image credit:Eastgate Centre, Harare, Zimbabwe. | Wikimedia Commons

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