Shamiso Dzingire, Business Reporter
TOTAL revenue generated by mobile operators in the first quarter of 2018 dropped by 5,8 percent to $244,6 million from $259,7 million in the same period last year, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has revealed.
In its sector performance report for the period ended March 31, 2018, Potraz also said total operating costs increased by 36 percent to $185,8 million in the first quarter of 2018 from $136,6 million recorded in the last quarter of 2017.
“Total mobile investment increased by 70 percent to record $14 million in the first quarter of 2018 from $8,2 million recorded in the last quarter of 2017,” said the regulator.
It said although mobile revenues consistently increased during the course of last year, they declined in the first quarter of 2018.
The report does not give reasons for the drop in revenues but indications are that 2018 would record growth, largely driven by data and internet usage.
According to Potraz, the upcoming elections this month are likely to spur the usage of social media and data services, thus increasing the volume of internet usage.
“The hunger for data remains insatiable, and this will continue as a key focus area for all telecoms players,” read the report.
Meanwhile, Potraz also indicated the total number of active mobile money subscriptions as of 31 March 2018 stood at 5,5 million up from 4,7 million recorded in the last quarter of 2017.
This represents a 6.35 percent increase in active mobile money subscribers in the first quarter of 2018 when compared to the last quarter 2017 figures.
“NetOne experienced the biggest leap in active mobile money subscriptions of 49 percent when compared to the last quarter 2017 figures. In absolute terms, however, Econet increased its subscribers by 272 000 while NetOne and Telecel increased by 26 028 and 214 respectively,” it said.
Mobile money subscriptions are expected to grow as all mobile operators have fully operationalised mobile money systems that are linked to various banks.
“Mobile money services are also expected to continue playing a key role of bridging the financial divide by providing safe, secure, convenient and cheap financial services in areas where many Zimbabweans have no access to formal banking systems.
“Volumes of mobile money payments are expected to maintain an upward trend due to the significant increase in the number of financial services offered on mobile money platforms,” reads the report.