Zimbabwe telecommunication density rises sharply

It said more than four million people were connected to a telephone service, mainly mobile, at the end of 2009, compared to just one million at the start of the year.

In figure terms, this translated to a tele-density of 30 percent, up from 10 per cent at the beginning of the year.

The study said economic stability and introduction of foreign currency in local trade spurred the growth in the telecommunications sector.

Zimbabwe scrapped its worthless dollar at the beginning of the year, and introduced a range of foreign currencies, including the US Dollar, British Pound, the euro and the South African Rand in replacement.

The study said this allowed the phone networks to generate ‘real’ revenue, and to invest in expansion.

Use of the multiple currencies and political stability, after a coalition govern ment took over in February, also stabilised the economy.

"The penetration rate for the use of mobile telephones, which was 10 percent in 2008, had risen to levels of over 30 percent by November 2009," the study said.

Econet Wireless, the country’s biggest mobile phone provider, hooked on more than two million new subscribers last year, to bring its total to more than three million.

The other two mobile phone networks have more than one million subscribers between them, with one saying it doubled users last year.

But the state-owned fixed-phone operator, Tel-One, failed to take advantage of the improving economic climate, as it did not not register growth in subscriber numbers, blaming vandalism of its infrastructure by thieves who cut its cable and melt it to extract copper.

Tel-One, which enjoys a monopoly in the provision of fixed-phone service, is in talks with Telcom for a possible tie-up.