Zimbabwe's mobile penetration rate dropped 9,8 percentage points in the first quarter of 2019 to 83,3 percent compared to the fourth quarter in 2018 as a result of the tough economic times, latest data from the telecommunications sector regulator shows.
Cellphones became the biggest telecommunications tool in the last decade, with Government and phone companies making strides to ensure that all the corners of the country have coverage. The growth in usage of mobile money has also helped drive the adoption of mobile phones.
According to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), active mobile phone subscriptions were down to 12,1 million from 12,9 million during the period.
"The decline in active mobile subscriptions is reflective of the general depressed demand in the economy," Potraz said.
The data show all the three mobile phone companies recorded a slide in active subscribers during the period, with state-owned NetOne, at -20,4 percent having suffered the biggest drop. Telecel followed at -1,8 percent and Econet at -1,1 percent.
"A number of promotions were also modified in the quarter under review; the reduction in benefits could also have led to a decline in multi-SIM usage, thus negatively affecting the total active subscriber base," Potraz said.
Mobile voice traffic also fell to four percent to 1.404 billion minutes while active internet subscriptions slid 3,3 percent to 8,4 million, resulting in a five percent drop in the internet penetration rate.
During the period, Econet's dominance continued with it's market share going up to 69,7 percent from 66,3 percent, Telecel marginally up to 8,9 percent from 8,5 while NetOne was down to 21,4 percent from 25,2 percent.