Econet taking in 81.2% of total data revenues and extracting more from each customer than NetOne and Telecel

Leonard Sengere Avatar
Douglas Mboweni - Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority released the sector report for Q2 2022. No one living in Zimbabwe will be surprised that even the large companies in this sector are dealing with rising costs.

Zimbabwe is still dealing with high inflationary pressures, despite the ZWD firming against the USD a little in the last few months. Here is the trend when it comes to mobile operators’ operating costs.

  • Q2 2021 – 8.9bn
  • Q3 2021 – 12.5bn
  • Q4 2021 – 13.9bn
  • Q1 2022 – 17bn
  • Q2 2022 – 24.6bn

You can see there was a 176% increase in operating costs from Q2 2021 to Q2 2022. Year-on-year inflation at the end of Q2 2022 was 191.6% and so the 176% increase in operating costs is not that bad.

Revenues have also been growing but not by much in absolute terms. We saw that Telecel has seen revenues fall in both ZWD and USD terms.

Here is the revenue trend:

QuarterTotal revenues – ZW$ (Billions)
Q2 202116.9
Q3 202119.5
Q4 202126.2
Q1 202228.8
Q2 202238.9

There was a 130% growth in revenues as opposed to a 176% increase in operating costs from Q1 2021 to Q2 2022. This means profits have been falling in the sector.

Operating costs have outpaced revenues because there are restrictions on how frequently and by how much mobile operators can increase prices to respond to rising costs. For example, there was no tariff review in Q2 2022 at all despite inflationary pressures in the economy.

Potraz attributes the stable prices for the 32.6% increase in voice minutes used. We talked about the relatively low prices at the time and we were crucified for saying that.

Here is how that Q2 2022 revenue was shared:

Total revenues were ZW$38.9 billion (or around US$106.2 million using the official exchange rate at the end of the quarter).

Of which voice revenue, at 44.6% of total revenue was ZW$17.35 billion, shared thus:

  • Econet – ZW$13.01 billion (75%)
  • NetOne – ZW$9.41 billion (24.2%)
  • Telecel – ZW$0.14 billion (0.8%)

Data revenue at 38.9% of total revenues was ZW$15.13 billion, shared thus:

  • Econet – ZW$12.29 billion (81.2%)
  • NetOne – ZW$2.77 billion (18.3%)
  • Telecel – ZW$0.08 billion (0.5%)

SMS revenue at 6.6% of total revenues was ZW$2.57 billion, shared thus:

  • Econet – ZW$1.93 billion (75.1%)
  • NetOne – ZW$0.56 billion (21.6%)
  • Telecel – ZW$0.08 billion (3.3%)

Remember these are approximations calculated from market share. The MNOs price their bundles differently and those with cheaper bundles may command more market share but with a lower share of revenue than the market share would suggest. 

Econet taking the lion’s share

Econet has 65.2% of total mobile subscribers. All things being equal you would expect to see them command around 65% in traffic and revenues.

In reality, they are pulling in over 75% in traffic and if we consider that NetOne and Telecel almost always have cheaper bundles, their share of revenues is likely higher than the traffic figures would suggest.

This means their share of data revenue could very well reach 90%. A data traffic share of 81.2% and less pocket friendly bundles means their revenue share is higher than that.

This spells out just how much of a hole Telecel is in. If Econet is pulling in more than 81% of data revenue, for example, it means Telecel is not even pulling in the 0.5% that their share of traffic would suggest.

Voice, data, and SMS revenue represent 90% of mobile operator revenues and so let’s extrapolate what 100% of revenues look like. Let’s average out the share of traffic on voice, data, and SMS and assume that translates to the other revenue channels. It won’t be precise bit it should give us an idea.

  • Econet – ZW$30.26 billion (US$82.7 million using official exchange rate at end of Q2)
  • NetOne – ZW$14.16 billion (US$38.7 million)
  • Telecel – ZW$0.3 billion (US$0.8 million)

That means we are looking at average revenue per user per month figures of:

  • Econet – US$9.10
  • NetOne – US$8.8
  • Telecel – US$0.64

To be honest with you, I don’t spend US$8.8 on airtime per month, let alone US$9.10. So, kudos to Econet and NetOne for extracting that much from ya’ll each and every month. Telecel is failing to get even a dollar from each subscriber.

Not much changing in this sector

Econet keeps inching forward, slowly cementing its already huge lead. NetOne remains a good option that is still miles behind the market leader. Then Telecel keeps doing Telecel things, trending in the wrong direction.

I don’t foresee any significant change to this status quo in the coming quarters. Years even. Barring a massive event like a new MNO getting a licence to operate or the Zim government deciding they have had enough of Econet like they did with EcoCash, we will be seeing more of the above for years.

Also read:

Telecel now getting only 64 cents from each customer per month

Telecel revenues down 95% from 2015 levels, from US$14m to US$0.7m per month in 2022

Does Econet’s 1130% profit increase even mean anything? Benefiting from relatively low tariffs?


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  1. Captain Samsung

    I pay 10$ a month for Telone and watch free news and movies on DEOD

    1. Anonymous

      Netone is one of the Best but in this game there are only three players


      Then Telone inokwana panana

      Liquid Telecoms

  2. TkAyZ

    Soon Netone will have a large share in the data share because their $10 for 15 gig is one of the best as compared to 8 gig being offered by Econet

    1 month ago i decided to test run the Netone $10 bundle since then i’ve been using it since Econet has a tendency yekuty ukatenga airtym yema bond wange waijadza rema US

    Bundle iroro kuty rizoshande unotambura

  3. Bankai October

    I have a question for the network polygamists out there… With all personal dislikes against founders, logo colours or other miscellaneous issues of universal importance, which mobile provider supplies the overall best data service? The stats say Econet, but if I went by what i see online and hear in person, I would expect them to be lower in revenue rankings.

    1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

      A Zimbo will complain about the price of bread whilst holding 3 loaves, in their hands, don’t take it to heart. Some of it is just venting.

      1. The Empress

        So true… 🤣

  4. Jinx

    “We talked about the relatively low prices at the time and we were crucified for saying that”

    You just had to mention it. I still remember the little debate that happened about two months back. Voice calling was ridiculously cheap back then.

  5. BaNyasha

    I am always caught between Econet and Netone these days. Gone are the days i used to be a Telecel advocate. Haaa their network unavailability got me where it hurts most.

    With Netone i need the 15gb. with Econet i need the mediocre 10gb but that “+voice” worth an extra 3usd for 300minutes got me feeling kinda like a schizo. Kudos to Econet for such a brilliant plan on that one. They will always have my money monthly just voz of that extra.

  6. D.P Archer

    Hello Guys please help me put econet yomix is sending me messages for 50% discount, but when i try to buy its the original price.

  7. Mukanya

    Econet is the best when it comes to Network availability, With the new combo price for data, Voice & SMS I am good they deserve it.

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