The report particularly highlights that the volume of internet traffic utilised increased by 94.7 percent in comparison to the first half of 2019 while the volume of domestic outgoing voice traffic also increased by 26.1 percent over the same period. Further, the value (amount of money) of electronic money transactions increased significantly by 126 percent during the period under review.
The Authority is also pleased to note that the number of active mobile network subscriptions at the end of June, 2020 reached 17.9 million reflecting a mobile penetration rate of 100.2 percent. This means that there are as many active sim cards in the country as the size of the population.
The said performance is based on quantitative and qualitative insights gathered from various players in the ICT sector who include: providers of ICT services, Government Ministries, Agencies and Departments as well as physical and online resources which were complemented with information generated by the Authority.
Local Developments in the ICT Sector
By the end of June 2020, there were a total of eighty nine (89) valid licences in the ICT sector compared to eighty seven (87) valid licences recorded at the end of June, 2019. During the first half of 2020, a total of five licences were issued. ZICTA also cancelled two licences for UZI Zambia during the first half of 2020. By the end of June, 2020, the Authority had issued a total of thirty two (32) valid licenses to operators in the postal and courier services sector compared to twenty five (25) licences reported at the end of June, 2019.
The value of electronic money transactions increased from ZMW 18.99 billion recorded in the first half of 2019 to ZMW 43 billion recorded in the first half of 2020 reflecting an increase of 126 percent. Similarly, the volume of electronic money transactions increased from 224 million transactions recorded in the first half of 2019 to 424 million transactions recorded in the first half of 2020 reflecting an increase of 89 percent. MTN Zambia in January 2020 was among the first providers of mobile broadband services to launch a new range of non – expiry mobile data bundle. Airtel Networks Zambia Plc also launched the new Airtel TV App which is 2 earmarked to allow customers to enjoy news on the go as well as other programming such as movies, music, reality shows, children’s shows as well as documentaries. Zamtel signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Zambia Railways (ZRL) through which Zamtel will provide ZRL with Integrated Communication Solutions including voice and data. To increase digital financial services, Financial Sector Deepening Zambia and its partners began a process of distributing cell phones and solar chargers to savings groups in rural communities.
Performance of the ICT Sector
The total number of active mobile network subscriptions increased from 16.3 million subscriptions at the end of June, 2019 to 17.9 million subscriptions at the end of June, 2020 reflecting an improvement of 10.0 percent. The growth in mobile network subscriptions represents an improvement in the mobile penetration rate, defined as the ratio of the total number of active subscriptions to the total population, from 93.8 percent recorded at the end of June, 2019 to 100.2 percent recorded at the end of June, 2020. Domestic incoming mobile voice traffic increased marginally from 1.11 billion minutes recorded in the first half of 2019 to 1.115 billion minutes reported in the first half of 2020 reflecting an improvement of 0.4 percent. Similarly, the total domestic outgoing minutes increased from 7.9 billion minutes recorded in the first half of 2019 to 9.9 billion minutes reported in the first half of 2020, representing an improvement of 26.1 percent. Incoming international mobile voice traffic declined from 15.8 million minutes reported in the first half of 2019 to 10.5 million minutes reported in the first half of 2020 reflecting an overall reduction of 33.6 percent.
The ICT sector is expected to continue on its positive growth trajectory in the subsequent review period amidst some notable risks. Growth is expected to mainly be driven by increased demand for data services among consumers.