POTRAZ sets aside US$7 million for Tech start-ups

By Malcolm Meja

POSTAL and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has set aside US$7m to support fledging startups.

Muchengete urged local young innovators to come up with viable and bankable projects that his organisation can finance.

“it is quite notable that all of the technologies we use are from America. And we want you, young local innovators, to come up with bankable projects so that we can also compete with companies. That’s why as Potraz we have set aside US$7 million to finance such projects,” said Muchengete

The postal and telecommunications sector has experienced shifts with a growing mobile and internet subscribers and a decline in fixed subscriptions.Mobile internet and data usage increased by a record 89.9% from 8, 094 terabytes to 15,360 terabytes as at 31 December 2017.

Subsequently, this has seen a sizable decrease in the active fixed telephone subscriptions. The total number of the active fixed telephone lines declined by 13,6% to record 264, 150 from 305, 720. This is a clear indication of how the population is fast migrating and opting to use mobiles phones, as a result, the fixed teledensity declined from 2, 4% to 1,9%in 2017.

Despite the increase in the active mobile subscriptions, Zimbabwe is still further behind in comparison with other countries in terms of data internet usage and active mobile users. Potraz has in recent past lobbied for reduced duty on cell phone imports but the usage is still low as the prices of smartphones is still high.

The sector exhibited growth in data and internet usage as voice tariffs continue to decline. Fixed voice calls declined by 5,7% to record 4,400,994,563 minutes from 4,666,909,037 minutes recorded in 2016. The declined has been a continuous downward spiral in the last 4 years, however, the rate of decline has reduced from 20% recorded in 2016.

This can be largely attributed to the significant increase of mobile voice traffic of 14% recorded in the last quarter of 2017 when the country experienced a change in the political landscape.

The postal and telecommunication shows sizeable growth in revenue from the depressing experience since 2014. In total telecommunications revenue increased by 11,2% to a record US$1 trillion from US$9,9 billion recorded in 2016.

The market structure remains relatively unchanged across postal and telecommunications markets in 2017. With Telone leading the fixed voice and fixed internet services and Econet leading the mobile voice and internet respectively.

Econet has a market share of 49,4%, Netone with 36,6% and Telecel with 14,0%.Telecel was the only mobile operator to register a decline in active mobile subscriptions.

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