The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz)’s 2018 first quarter (Q1) sector report shows Econet Wireless maintained its customer and revenue market share lead on the back of consistent growth in the key industry performance indicators.
The sector performance report, issued every quarter by the industry regulator, revealed that Econet was the only operator to increase its active customer subscription base by 2.2% in the three months from January to end of March 2018. Its closest rival NetOne lost a staggering 46.9% of its customer base, while – according to the report – the third operator Telecel lost 12.4% of its subscriber base.
The report showed that while Econet added over 160 000 new customers to its subscriber base in the quarter, from 7 488 588 in Q4 of 2017 to 7 651 312, the ZSE-listed company was the only one of the three licensed operators to register positive customer growth, as NetOne lost over 2.3 million customers – nearly half of its customer base – from 4 957 105 to 2 634 137 in Q1 2018, while Telecel lost over 200 000 customers, from 1 646 411 at the end of 2017, to 1 443 029 as at the end of Q1 2018.
The massive drop in customers by NetOne resulted in the entire mobile sector dropping a cumulative 16.8% mobile subscriptions in Q1 of 2018 over the previous quarter.
The Potraz report attributed the government-controlled operator’ loss of customers to challenges with its OneFussion promotion platform, among other things.
Not surprisingly, the report showed Econet’s customer market share jumping from 53% in Q4 2017, to 65% in Q1 of 2018. NetOne’s customer market share slumped from 35% to 23%, while Telecel’s customer market share held steady at 12%, as in the previous quarter.
On the Internet and mobile data front, a key penetration driver and growth metric in the mobile industry as global trends shows voice revenues plateauing or declining, the report showed that Econet’s mobile Internet and data traffic market share grew from 64.6% to 67.1% in Q1.
NetOne’s Internet and data market share slipped from 29.2% to 27.8%, while Telece’s Internet and data market share fell from 6.2% to 5.1%.
The report further revealed that Econet maintained its leading share of mobile revenues in the sector at 84.3% in Q1, up from 84.2% in the previous quarter.
NetOne increased it mobile share of revenue by half a percentage point to 11.3%, from 10.8% in the last reported quarter, at the expense of Telecel, whose revenue market share fell from 5% in Q4 2017, to 4.4% in Q1 2018.
Voice traffic market share for Econet came at a softer 73.7% in Q1, from 78.2% in the previous quarter, according to the report, with Telecel’s voice traffic market share also coming lower at 4.1%, down from 7.0% in the previous quarter.
However, despite shedding 47% of its customer base, the report showed NetOne still registering an 8.1% jump in voice traffic market share in Q1, mustering 22.1% voice market share from 14% in the previous quarter – arguably attributable to heavily discounted minutes of usage from non-billable promotions, such as OneFusion.
The Potraz report showed Econet’s EcoCash mobile money service largely maintaining its market leadership, after it added the most customers, recording 272 605 new customers in Q1 (from 4 574 409 to 4 847 014), about 6% growth. Telecel’s TeleCash added a marginal 0.3% new users (from 79 429 to 79 643) while NetOne’s OneMoney remained in third place in terms of total mobile money subscriptions, just behind Telecel, despite adding 26 028 new users (from 52 940 to 78 968), thus registering a 49,2 growth on the previous quarter.
The report showed the overall mobile money landscape in Q1 more or less remaining as it was in the previous quarter, with EcoCash recording 96.8% market share (down from 97.2%), with Telecel and NetOne tied at 1.6% market share apiece (from 1.1% and 1.7% respectively in the previous quarter).
Econet Wireless COO Fayaz King refrained from commenting directly on Econet’s performance, saying the numbers spoke for themselves. He however applauded the staff and management at Econet for the outstanding performance.
“The sector report demonstrates the ability by the staff and management at Econet to execute and consistently deliver at the highest level,” King said.
“Despite operating in the same environment with their peers, a very challenging environment for that matter, I think Econet staff have consistently shown an extraordinary capacity to diligently reinvent themselves, to innovate and to compete at a very, very high level, and for that I am most grateful, and I must say, ‘Very well done!’.”
King said Econet, which celebrates its 20th anniversary today (July 10), 2018, having commenced operations July 10, 1998, will have an extra cause for celebration.
“I am delighted that as the Econet family celebrates the company’s 20th anniversary today – from our staff, our investors and shareholders, all our key stakeholders, including our valued customers – they can do so with the comfort of knowing that 20 years on, the business is very much on a solid, healthy and growth trajectory,” King said.