Potraz just released their annual report for 2017 and quarterly report for 4th quarter 2017. We found the pattern of subscriber growth or lack thereof to be quite interesting.
Econet increased their number of subscribers by 4.9%, whilst NetOne saw a 1.9% increase. Telecel, however, is the only mobile network provider that lost subscribers and it seems there was actually an exodus as they lost 8.2%. This is close to a tenth of their subscriber base so they definitely took a hit.
The numbers are quite revealing and they point us to what subscribers are prioritising as their major needs. Let us look at some of these trends and what they mean.
Do promotions actually work?
The fact that Econet had the most growth from Q3 to Q4 is a bit surprising since people are usually complaining about the cost of data associated with using Econet. Econet already had a sizeable lead over NetOne and Telecel but they managed to extend that lead, even though the promotions from the other MNOs are considered to have data promotions that are far superior to what Econet offers in terms of affordability.
With these popular data promotions, growth has still been minimal for NetOne whilst Telecel lost almost 10% of their subscriber base which is downright alarming. Of course, Telecel subscribers might have fled the scene due to other issues such as lack of 4G. We also questioned how impactful OneFusion has been at the beginning of the year. What is clear is the fact that promotions do not offer a sustainable way to grow and attract customers.
What could be bigger than promotions?
I think it’s fair to say that the reason why Econet managed to grow by 4% can be attributed almost exclusively to their EcoCash mobile money service. The cash crisis worsened drastically around September so this forced subscribers to move to Econet as EcoCash was used widely and lessened the burdens that came with the cash crisis. The fact that EcoCash had a 98% ‘monopoly’ share in the mobile money market meant that it basically became a requirement in day to day life. Not having EcoCash is actually a disservice as one would be depriving themselves certain services. This problem is also compounded by the fact that wallet to wallet funds transfers are not possible in the mobile money field which meant users have to have EcoCash in order to transfer funds seamlessly to their family and friends
EcoCash opening up its door could be a good thing for NetOne and Telecel
The fact that Econet recently started allowing NetOne and Telecel subscribers to register for EcoCash could help both mobile network operators (NetOne and Telecel) to retain customers. Think of it this way, subscribers no longer need to flock to Econet just for EcoCash. They can now enjoy their more competitive data promotions whilst still accessing EcoCash. Telecel and NetOne only need to open up their USSD platform to work with EcoCash so that the integration is faultless.
Going forward, I’m particularly interested in seeing how Telecel will attempt to reverse their slide and regain subscribers going forward.
You can download Potraz 4th quarter results in the PDF below:
Quick NetOne, Telecel, Africom, Econet Airtime Recharge
NetOne Zimbabwe was the first mobile phone operator in Zimbabwe, the company was launched in 1996. The company is a privately owned company in which the Zimbabwe government has a stake and was formed as a subsidiary of the Posts and Telecommunications. Corporation (PTC). Service... Read More About NetOne
Telecel Zimbabwe is a telecommunications services provider with most of its services in the mobile cellular network services. The company is owned jointly by the Empowerment Corporation (40%) and Vimpelcom (60%), one of the largest telecoms companies in the world. In Zimbabwe, Telecel is the... Read More About Telecel
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless International, is the first and largest mobile network services provider in Zimbabwe. The telecoms giant became popular with its products and services such as Buddie. It has established branches in different corners of the country and enjoys... Read More About Econet