Zimbabwe: Econet Data Traffic Jumps 90pc On Covid-19

11 January 2021

Zimbabwe's largest mobile network operator Econet Wireless reported a 90 percent jump in data traffic during three months to November 30, 2020 compared to the same quarter a year earlier as Covid-19 induced lockdown restrictions saw people moving towards digital platforms as opposed to physical interaction.

Spurred by Covid-19, Zimbabwe and many countries world over have embraced digitalisation with schools and businesses accelerating use of digital products avoid physical human contact as part of measures to reduce chances of contracting the virus.

Zimbabwe first introduced a tough lockdown in March last year but gradually eased the restrictions.

However schools remained closed until November while some employees continued working from home.

With confirmed cases of the coronavirus rising, Zimbabwe, from Tuesday last week tightened lockdown restrictions.

These include 6am to 6pm nationwide curfew and banning of non-essential businesses.

In the past few weeks, Zimbabwe recorded a surge in Covid-19 infections and deaths and the latest round on restrictions will keep everyone not in essential services at home expect when they need to buy food or medicine, collect water or seek medical attention among other essential needs, according to regulations.

In a trading update for the quarter to November 2020, Econet indicated that despite challenges posed by the pandemic, this created an opportunity to innovate.

"This pandemic has helped us to understand the opportunities presented by digitalisation.

"While managing the risks, we are also alive to the opportunities presented by Covid-19, particularly the accelerated need for digitalisation across all business sectors.

"Telecommuting and serving our customers through digital channels has become our preferred way of doing business," Econet said in a trading update for review quarter.

"Our past investment in resilient network infrastructure has positioned us to be the digital connectivity partner of choice. We continue to enable our customers to work and learn from home whilst observing social distancing etiquette.

"This is reflected in the data traffic volumes which have increased by 89, 5 percent from the previous year."

SMS volumes also grew during the period on the back of increased adoption and usage of e-commerce platforms which drives customer SMS interactions.

However, voice traffic volumes declined slightly following tariff adjustments in July 2020 and August 2020, although they have since started recovering.

Econet indicated the price correction for telecommunications services was necessary as price adjustments were lagging behind inflation, in the previous periods.

"The improvement in the tariff regime as a result of inflation adjusted price adjustments approved by the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has helped to restore the viability of the sector," said Econet.

However, accumulated foreign obligations in the telecommunications sector were preventing capitalisation of the country's telecommunications operators, Econet added in a trading update for review quarter.

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