Econet Wireless engages Govt to review duty regime for mobile devices

By Staff Reporter

TELECOMS giant Econet says it is working closely with the government to review the duty regime for mobile devices to enhance the rapid adoption of digital services across the economy.

According to the latest Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe report, for the second quarter of 2020, active internet and data subscriptions declined by 2.4% to reach 56.7% from 59.1% recorded in the previous quarter.

Telecoms lobby GSMA have been urging governments and policymakers to implement policies to enhance access to connectivity and drive investment in more resilient digital infrastructure for the future.

“We are optimistic that the government, which also acknowledges the benefits of a digitised economy, will ensure that Zimbabweans are not left behind,” group chairman James Meyers said in a statement.

Smart phone penetration is at low 52%, compared to about 90% for South Africa and remains a limitation for the adoption of digital services. Kenya’s penetration rate of mobile Internet users is at about 80%.

“Zimbabwe’s internet penetration rate remains low as approximately 22% of the devices on our network trying to access data services are “feature” phones with low data handling capacity.”

The increasing digitalisation of the economy necessitates an increase in 4G/LTE infrastructure. Increased access to data services is necessary to support, among other critical imperatives, online education, health and business digitalisation initiatives.

To date the group have a 3G population coverage of about 70% for data services across the country, and, inclusive of its 4G coverage, it has now 90% of the population covered by data-capable base stations, although based on the internet penetration rate, only 59% of the population have access to internet services.

4G/LTE is a technology that provides upload and download speeds that are up to 10 times faster than 3G.

“As we increase our 4G coverage, complemented by the increase in data capable devices, we are able to provide faster upload and download speeds so that our customers can enjoy high speed applications,” Meyers said.

“Our efforts have been hampered, in the last financial year, by the lack of foreign currency to increase our capacity and coverage to desired levels.”

However, Econet remained committed in providing telecommunications to all the people of Zimbabwe, which is the premise the business was founded upon, over 20 years ago.

Inflation adjusted revenue for the group for the year ended 29 February 2020 rose 32% to ZWL$6.8 billion from ZWL$5.2 billion previously. EBTIDA declined by 4% from ZLW$2.8 billion previously to ZWL$2.7 billion.

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