By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE’S internet and data penetration rate increased by 0.4% amid a decline in other traditional forms of communication, the sector’s regulator has reported.
Presenting the 2020 annual report, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) director general, Gift Machengete attributed the surge to new Covid-19 induced working patterns.
“Active internet and data subscriptions grew by 0.4% to reach 8,875,649 in 2020 from 8,836,299 subscriptions recorded in 2019,” the report said.
The internet penetration rate reached 60.9% in 2020 from 60.6% recorded in 2019.
The sector also recorded a surge in internet and data usage due to the increased adoption of e-learning and telecommuting.
A total of 48,781 terabytes (TB) of mobile internet and data were consumed in 2020.
This represents a growth of 36.5% while used international incoming bandwidth capacity also increased by 36.6%.
During the period under review, total mobile and fixed voice traffic declined by 0.9% 6,095,683,710 minutes in 2020 from 6,150,783,671 minutes recorded in 2019.
International incoming traffic also declined by 20.6% to record 136.7 million minutes from 172.4 million minutes recorded in 2019.
International outgoing traffic also declined by 59.3% to record 25.7 million minutes from 63.1 million minutes recorded in 2019.
Total postal and courier volumes declined by 57% to record 2.3 million items in 2020, from 5.3 million items in 2019.
International incoming and outgoing courier declined by 60.2% and 70.5 % in 2020 respectively.
The declines were largely attributed to the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
POTRAZ said the implementation of lockdown restrictions in various jurisdictions negatively impacted the channelling of mail and international courier in particular.
“Foreign currency shortages continued to bedevil the economy, with implications on network expansion, upgrade and maintenance, taking a toll on quality of service as demand for data surged for operators. Foreign currency constraints also affected some operations of the Authority.
“In particular the upgrading and maintenance of regulatory monitoring equipment as well as universal service projects targeted for rural and under-served areas,” added Machengete.