HARARE – Zimbabwe’s airtime levy missed its January target of $4 million after the country collected only $3 million due to worsening economic conditions.
The government introduced a five percent levy on all airtime purchases for mobile telecommunications firms in 2014 as part of strategies to bolster its dwindling revenue streams.
However, the deteriorating economic conditions have resulted in the majority of people reducing voice calls — a major driver of air time purchases in the country.
A recent report by the Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) also confirmed that the country’s three mobile network operators significantly reduced their capital expenditure by 85 percent to $10,4 million in the three months to March this year from $71,8 million recorded in the previous quarter.
Industry analysts attributed the decline in capital expenditure to a challenging macro-economic environment that has seen companies shutting down and thousands of workers losing jobs.
In the period under review, total mobile revenues declined by 9,7 percent to record $179 827 527 from $199 209 707 recorded in the previous quarter.
On the other hand, operating costs increased by 5,7 percent to record $135 942 367 from $128 627 068 recorded in the previous quarter.
Potraz said voice service is still the major revenue contributor contributing 58,9 percent of the total revenue.
“The revenue contribution of data and Internet services is improving after having contributed 21,5 percent in the quarter under review, up from 20,2 percent recorded in the previous quarter.
“The average revenue per user per month for the mobile operators declined by 13,1 percent to record $3,98 from $4,50 recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016,” read part of the report .
On the other hand, the average cost per user per month increased by 3,7 percent to record $3,07 up from $2,96 recorded in the previous quarter.
As a result the average margin per user per month declined by 40,9 percent to record $0,91 from $1,54 recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016.
In the three months to March, total mobile voice traffic declined by 8,9 percent to record 833 557 542 minutes from 914 842 510 minutes recorded in the fourth quarter of last year.
“Most voice traffic categories experienced reduction in volumes with mobile off-net experiencing the biggest decline of 13,2 percent,” Potraz said, adding that there was also a general decline in SMS traffic in the period under review.