By the numbers: 6 interesting facts about telecoms & internet in Zimbabwe


mobile-phone1. Zimbabwe’s mobile penetration 87% now. This figure is based on the number of active sim cards in the country.


Telecel2. Zimbabwe’s total number of active SIM cards reported, 11.4 million, is actually not the number of people that own mobile phones.

Some people have more than one SIM from the same operator (smartphone, internet dongle, tablet, dumb phone) or from different operators (dual SIM mobile phones). The actual number of individuals is not known yet but could be the total people 15 years old and above in the country – about 7.7 million. Smartphones in the market are estimated to be between 20% and 30%.



africom-voice-services-033. CDMA and VoIP operators (Africom, Telecontract, and recently PowerTel and ZOL) are yet to take anything out of the voice traffic market share, only accounting for 0.3% of all the calls terminated across networks in the country.



4. Mobile operators are apparently still installing new 2G base stations. Some 75 2G base stations were added in the 3 months to September 2014 making the total number of these base stations 3,284. Too many!!

We have more 2G base stations in Zimbabwe than 3G ones. The last count of total 3G base stations in the country done in September 2014 was 1,300. Compare that to the 3.2k 2G mentioned above. LTE base stations are too few to mention, but for records sake – Zimbabwe has about 19 base stations. All this means for good (no, just decent) internet to happen in this country, a lot of infrastructure investment still needs to be made.

If you’re wondering why the infrastructure sharing discussion is complicated, consider that one mobile operator, Econet Wireless, owns 65% of all the 2G and 3G base stations in the country. Telecel has 21% of the base stations and NetOne, the least, with just 14% of the base stations.



5. Zimbabwe has 6.1 million internet subscriptions with 99% of those being mobile devices based. The 1% of fixed internet connections is mostly ADSL internet provided by the government-owned fixed line operator, TelOne.

The growth in internet connections has slowed down, growing only 1% in the quarter to September 2014. Previously, subscription growth was increasing by at least 2% a quarter.


laying-fibre-zimbabwe6. The country has 6,900 km of backbone fibre – that is fibre connecting cities and towns together and to international internet connections by EASSy, Liquid and others. Of that Liquid has 2,900km of fibre, TelOne 2,541km, then Powertel 950km, and then Africom 850km.

We didn’t realise Africom had so much backbone fibre  so there’s a bit of a surprise there. Interesting to note that is that these are not connections to homes. Liquid has many more connections to homes that anyone in the country having poured lots of money into this these past 2 years. At some point, they said they were installing as much as 2.7km a day which would translate to roughly over 1,400km rolled out in suburbs.

source: POTRAZ Q3 2014 sector report.

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