On the face of it, the Covid-19 lockdown was an inadvertent blessing for Zimbabwe telecom operators.
With people stuck at home for months’ telecoms must have gained from those working remotely and those posting on social media.
Unlike other parts of the economy, the telecoms sector had an advantage in that under the various lockdown levels, it could continue to operate.
According to the sector performance report released by regulator the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), there was a 56,2 percent growth in mobile internet and data traffic for the second quarter of 2020.
Used International Internet Bandwidth Capacity also increased by 2,8 percent from the previous quarter.
Potraz expects internet and data traffic to “continue to grow due to the increased adoption of e-learning, telecommuting, and e-conferencing”.
Consumers have also been inevitably substituting voice service with cheaper Over-the-Top services such as WhatsApp.
The regulator said the pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance that telecommunications infrastructure plays in keeping businesses, governments, and societies connected and running.
“The sector has been critical in keeping the economy running under the lockdown by providing business-critical connectivity and resilience, facilitating work-from-home arrangements, e-banking, e-commerce and keeping individuals and societies connected and informed, with access to essential services during mandated social isolation.
“As a result, many telecom players providing broadband have benefited from a surge in the traffic of data,” Potraz
Meanwhile, there was a decline in active internet subscriptions in the quarter under review resulting in a 2,4 percent decline in internet penetration rate.
Potraz attributed this to the depressed demand in the economy, at both household and industry level.
“Covid-19 had a direct impact on the operations of both the formal and informal sector, thus negatively affecting real disposable incomes,” according to Potraz.