A SHARP rise in mobile phone tariffs during the final three months of 2021 resulted in a decline in voice and data traffic, as the country battled soaring inflation triggered by the weakening of the domestic currency, a report by the telecoms regulator has shown.
Zimbabwe, which last year recovered from two successive years of economic contraction, is now facing new economic challenges. The Zimbabwean dollar is depreciating against the greenback, prompting service providers to adjust prices in line with these changes.
According to the Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) sector performance report for the 4th quarter ending December 2021, traffic on mobile telephony went down despite growth in mobile subscriptions.
Total mobile voice traffic, the report shows, declined by 14.3% to record 1.8 billion minutes from 2.1 billion minutes recorded in the third quarter of 2021. Inbound and outbound roaming traffic increased by 96.8% and 34.9% respectively. This, according to the telecoms regulator, was the only quarter to record a decline in voice traffic.
“The decline in mobile voice traffic is attributable to the 56.4% increase in mobile voice tariffs in September 2021,” the report reads.
“Mobile Internet and data traffic declined by 3.5% to record 24,991 terabyte (TB) from 25,902TB recorded in the third quarter of 2021.
“Mobile Internet and data traffic declined by 3.5% to record 24,991TB from 25,902TB. All the mobile operators recorded a decline in Internet and data traffic; this is attributable to the 53.4% increase mobile internet and data tariffs in September 2021. As with mobile voice traffic, this was also the only quarter of 2021 to register a decline in mobile Internet and data traffic.”
In-bundle data constituted 96.5% of total mobile Internet and data usage, up from 94.6% recorded in the third quarter of 2021 as consumers sought to maximise their utility through promotional bundles, the report states.
The report further shows that used international incoming bandwidth capacity increased by 3.4% to record 195,158 megabits per second (Mbps), from188,768 mbps recorded in the third quarter of 2021.
Despite the decline in other traffic categories, inbound and outbound roaming recorded growth due to the increase in cross-border travel during the period under review, the telecoms regulator said.
“Total mobile operator revenues grew by 34% to record ZW$26,174,511,133 from ZW$19,537,428,10 recorded in the third quarter of 2021; On the other hand, operating costs grew by 10.9% to record ZW$13,869,570,869 from ZW$12,506,516,547,” the report reads.
“A total of ZW$26.2 billion was generated by the three mobile operators in the fourth quarter of 2021, up from ZW$19.5 billion recorded in the third quarter of 2021. The revenue contribution of voice service declined, given the huge decline in voice traffic, whereas the revenue contribution of Internet and data services narrowly increased.”
The total number of active mobile subscriptions increased by 2.3% to reach 14 257 590 in the fourth quarter of 2021 from 13 935 233 recorded in the third quarter of 2021. All the mobile networks, except Telecel, recorded growth in active subscriptions. The mobile penetration rate was 94.4%; up from 93.5% recorded in the third quarter of 2021.