BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
ZIMBABWE’S internet and data usage grew by 56,2% to 10,407 terabyte (TB) during the second quarter ended June 30, 2020 from 6,661TB previous quarter spurred by increased adoption of e-learning, telecommuting, and e-conferencing necessitated by the COVI-19 induced remote working.
“Mobile internet and data traffic increased by 56,2% to record 10,407TB from 6,661TB recorded in the previous quarter. Used international internet bandwidth capacity also increased by 2,8% to record 128,173Mbps from 124,627 Mbps recorded in the previous quarter. Internet/data traffic will continue to grow due to the increased adoption of e-learning, telecommuting, and e-conferencing,” Potraz director-general Gift Machengete said in the regulator’s second half
As such internet access provider (IAP)revenues grew by 52,2% to record $1,15 billion from $754,3 million, but total operating costs for IAPs grew by 188,4% to record $11,2 billion from $3,9 billion recorded in the first quarter of 2020 .The growth in data usage saw a decline in voice traffic with total fixed voice traffic declining 27,8% to record 80,9 million minutes in the second quarter of 2020 from 112,1 million minutes recorded in the first quarter of 2020.
Revenue generated by the fixed telephone network grew by 39,4% to record $430,4 million from $308,9 million. On the other hand, fixed network operating costs increased by 44,4% to record $345,6 million from $239,2 million recorded in the previous quarter.
“Total mobile voice traffic declined by 1,2% to record 1,31 billion minutes from 1,33 billion minutes recorded in the previous quarter. Given the economic environment, consumers have been inevitably substituting voice service with cheaper over-the-top services such as WhatsApp,” Potraz said.
Revenue generated by the mobile telephone networks grew by 45,8% to record $3 billion from $2,1 billion but total mobile network operating costs grew by 217,7% to record $16,1 billion from $5,1 billion recorded in the previous quarter.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the postal and courier sector the hardest as evidenced by the huge drop in volumes. Resultantly, total postal and courier volumes declined by 79,7% to record 272 881 items from 1 342 957 recorded in the previous quarter
“This is the lowest postal and courier volume the sector has experienced in a long time, after averaging above a million in the previous quarters. Postal and courier volumes declined significantly as people and businesses resorted to sending documents electronically. There were also challenges in channelling items to and from several destinations because of lockdown policies in different countries,” Machengete said.
As a result total postal and courier revenue declined by 2,1% to $69,4 million from $70,9 million. On the other hand, total operating costs by postal and courier operators grew by 13% to $58,7 million from $51,9 recorded in the first quarter of 2020.
The total number of active mobile subscriptions declined by 6,7% to reach 12 798 298 from 13 724 522, hence mobile penetration rate declined by 6,4% to reach 87,8% from 94,2% recorded in the previous quarter.
In addition, active fixed telephone lines declined by 0,2% to 260 542 from 260 959, while the fixed tele-density remained at 1,8%. Active internet and data subscriptions also declined by 4% to record 8 267 268 from 8 614 009. As a result, the Internet penetration rate declined by 2,4% to reach 56,7% from 59,1% recorded in the previous quarter.
“The decline in active internet subscriptions in the quarter under review may be attributable 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,” Machengete said.