International voice traffic to and from Zimbabwe declined by as much 19.6% between April and June 2016 with calls made via mobile as well as fixed telecommunications registering lower traffic during the period.
According to the most recent quarterly report on Zimbabwean telecoms from the regulator, POTRAZ, there was a 19.6% drop in international incoming calls to fixed lines while outgoing calls for fixed also fell, albeit by a lower margin – 12.7%
Mobile telecoms recorded a 12% drop in incoming international calls while outgoing calls to the rest of the world made via mobile fell by 13%.
It’s now an all too familiar pattern. In November 2015 we highlighted the same pattern of fewer international calls, a pattern which had persisted since 2014.
The millions of Zimbabweans that make up the country’s diaspora community are increasingly relying on alternatives to communicate with their loved ones back home with those at home doing the same to maintain contact outside.
Considering the way technology, specifically the internet, has made international communication easier this trend is hardly surprising.
In this past decade, the world has been flooded with various version of instant messaging platforms and internet calling services that make it less of an obligation and more of an unlikely option to actually call using mobile and fixed lines.
In the Zimbabwean context, what people rely on to consume the internet – stars like WhatsApp and Facebook – are platforms that have made internet calling and chat easier and cheaper with continued iterations that also include video calling.
There are also old favourites like Skype and Viber that also somewhere in the same mix. It’s just so much easier to communicate with anyone in part of the world where they have an internet connection.
There’s also a dash of irony in the way the service providers disrupted by this – the mobile network operators and the fixed telcos (in Zimbabwe that’s just one, really) are forced to improve the internet experience (and in the case of mobile operators – make it cheaper with WhatsApp and Facebook bundles) which makes these same cheaper services that people use instead, easier to access.
With the internet providing a new way to chat and maintain contact, it looks like this pattern decline isn’t going to change anytime soon.