Cellphone users double in Zim
Harare – Tele-density in Zimbabwe has shot up from around 30 percent at the beginning of the year to around 49 percent on the back of expansion programmes by players in the mobile telecommunications sector, figures from the national regulator show. Also known as the penetration rate, tele-density measures the availability of telephones in a country expressed as a ratio of the number of phones per every 100 people. Latest figures from the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) show that the country’s total subscriber base has shot up from slightly over three million people at the end of last year to the current 6.47 million. Zimbabwe has three mobile operators namely Econet, Telecel and Net One registered phenomenal growth in their subscriber bases since the beginning of the year, according to an online news service, Zimonline. According to Potraz, the biggest telecommunications company, Econet, now has 4.1 million subscribers followed by Telecel at 1.27 million and lastly state owned operator Net One at 1.1 million. Net One has managed to attain the target of doubling its subscriber base which stood at around 500 000 last year. The rise effectively means at least 49 in every 100 people in the country now have access to a phone. Zimbabwe has an estimated population of 12 million. Information and technology minister, Nelson Chamisa said the increase in mobile owners was a result of dollarisation and removal of duty on mobile phones imports. “The increase is just phenomenal,” Chamisa said. “The sector has grown due to dollarisation, last year the number of mobile owners were far fewer than what we have now. By end of the year mobile penetration could be much higher because of the fibre optic cable which we are laying around the country.” Growth of Zimbabwe’s 14-year old mobile telecommunications sector had slowed down in the last decade owing to recession that eroded consumer capacity to spend more on phone handsets and calls. The adoption of the American dollar and other currencies in place of the Zimbabwe dollar has been a stimulus to the telecoms sector and economy at large which grew by 5.1 percent in 2009 and is this year seen expanding by 4.5 percent.