Mobile network operators reported a 12.3% decline in revenues in the first quarter to $167.7 million as the general economic environment and Over-the-Top services continue to affect performance. Revenue in the previous quarter was at $191.1 million.
According to the Postal and Telecommunications sector report for the first quarter total voice traffic declined 14.2% while as a result the sector revenues declined 11.8% to $237.77 million.
“The postal and telecommunications sector has not been spared by the general diminishing consumer spending power in the economy; revenues declined across all sub-sectors i.e. fixed telephony, mobile telephony as well as data and internet services. Investment in the sector also declined due to the credit crunch as well as liquidity challenges in the economy,” said POTRAZ in the report.
The total number of mobile subscribers declined 2.5% to 18.99 million due to the removal of unused lines from the networks. Econet had 9.28 million subscribers, Telecel 4.27 million and NetOne 5.43 million. Of the total subscribers, 32.1% were inactive.
Fixed telephone recorded a 0.4 increase in active subscribers to 335 172. Household subscriptions increased 1.2% to 240 742 while corporate subscriptions registered a 1.4% drop to 94 430 from 95 785 the previous quarter. According to the report 73.9% of the fixed lines are in Harare and only 1.9% are in rural areas.
TelOne`s fixed voice revenues declined by 13.2% to record $30.67 million from $35.34 million recorded in the previous quarter. This decline in revenues is attributed to the decline in fixed voice traffic. Average revenue per user was at $30.58, a decline of 13.5%.
Traffic on the fixed telephone traffic declined by 5.8% to record 167,980,843 from 178,317,321 minutes recorded in the previous quarter. All traffic categories, with the exception of incoming traffic from IAPs and outgoing traffic to IAPs, registered declines. “As more interconnection agreements between IAPs and TelOne become operational, the flow of traffic between IAPs and TelOne is set to improve,” said the report. International incoming traffic had the biggest decline of 24% whereas international outgoing
traffic also declined by 6.4%.
International incoming and outgoing mobile traffic declined by 16.5% and 13.8% respectively. OTT voice applications such as Viber, Skype and WhatsApp calling have become popular alternatives for international calling as they are significantly cheaper; this has resulted in falling international voice traffic and in turn falling revenue from international voice services.
Mobile data utilisation increased by 25.5% to 1,510,379,839MB from 1,203,378,839MB recorded in the previous quarter.
The total number of registered mobile money subscriptions as at 31 March 2016 was 8,061,443. This represents a 9.9% increase from 7,333,388 recorded in the previous quarter. Of the total registered subscriptions 39.7% were active i.e. 3,199,568 subscribers had used mobile money services to send or receive money, purchase airtime or to make payments. This implies that 60.3% subscribers were inactive.
Cash-in transactions in the quarter were $449.86 million while cash-out transactions were at $407.26 million. Ecocash controls 98.4% of the cash-in transactions.