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POTRAZ Shares Telecoms Sector Highlights From 2019 Annual Report

Zimbabwean telecoms, infrastructure sharing,

POTRAZ sent out highlights from their annual telecoms sector report for 2019. The telecoms regulator did things differently releasing these highlights in a press release before the reports themselves are available.

We were informed that the full reports will be available later this week. Disclaimer aside here are some of the trends highlighted by POTRAZ statement from today;

  • The mobile penetration rate declined by 2.5% to reach 90.6% in 2019 from 93.1% recorded in 2018;
  • the internet penetration rate declined by 2.3% to reach 60.6% in 2019 from 62.9%;
  • The total voice traffic increased by 15.2% to record 6.15 billion minutes from 5.34 billion minutes recorded in 2018;
  • International incoming voice traffic declined by 4.4% to record 170.7 million from 178.4 million minutes;
  • mobile internet and data usage grew by 31% to record 35,733 Terabytes in 2019 from 27,278 Terabytes;
  • 105 new base stations were deployed in 2019 comprising of 33 new 2G base stations, 40 new 3G base stations and 32 new LTE ones;
  • The annual sector revenue for 2019 was ZWL$ 4.5 billion compared to US$1.6 billion in 2018;

It’s a bit strange that the POTRAZs revenue numbers are reported in US$ for one year and ZW$ for the but that’s probably meant to reflect the ZW$ introduction in 2019. It does make it a bit difficult to tell whether the revenues for 2019 were higher or lower than those of 2018 – since the ZW$ lost a large chunk to the US$ last year – starting out at a manufactured 1:1 rate and ending the year around 1:20

2020 Outlook

For the current year, POTRAZ believes data and internet services will continue to drive the growth of the telecoms industry but this has an asterisk attached to it. The expectation is that “fixed broadband at household level may fall due to rising prices” – a trend that was foreshadowed by the decline in active fibre subscriptions in the 3rd quarter of 2019.

POTRAZ also expects service provision to be affected because telecoms players can’t access foreign currency and they are affected by power outages;

… foreign currency challenges and the credit crunch continue to slow down network deployment, upgrades and maintenance.

At the same time, incessant power cuts continue to disrupt networks availability, forcing operators to resort to alternative power sources such as diesel and solar power, thereby increasing their operating costs.

POTRAZ statement

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