Accounting for 44 per cent of the Internet usage, WhatsApp has become by far the most popular internet application in Zimbabwe, while WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook only accounts for 1 per cent. 98% of the Internet used in Zimbabwe is accessed on Mobile cellular.Just a year ago, WhatsApp only accounted for one-third of the Internet usage of Zimbabwe and now its popularity is increasing at a pace that it will soon hit 50% percent mark.
The local mobile operators provide promotional WhatsApp and Facebook access bundles; these are helping in driving the usage of the platform, according to the regulator, Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe. It’s one of few African regulators to break down with consumers as it is controversial for governments in many countries in Africa.
Many countries have blocked WhatsApp for concerns about political organizations and spreading false or misleading information. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, set up a Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation ministry this month to dodge abuse and fake social media. Previous Year, 11 African governments blocked social media including WhatsApp during key National events such as Elections.
WhatsApp has changed and yet is changing the way Zimbabwe communicate and share information through groups and broadcast lists, they discuss everything from Politics and Government to Soccer and Music.
Just like elsewhere, the telecom companies in Zimbabwe are not happy about the growing popularity of WhatsApp as they do not make any direct revenue and it eats on the voice and SMS revenue.
A considerable amount of voice revenue has been lost by mobile companies during the quarter, says Zimbabwe’s regulator. Voice revenue was 58% last quarter and now it has dropped to 53% of the total revenue in the second quarter. Mobile data revenue is steady at about 21%. However, the total revenue for the period was 3.2% higher at $185.6 million.
Though the primary use of WhatsApp is for sending text messages but its voice call features is being cherished by the people and particularly for making International Calls. Zimbabwean mobile firms have previously lobbied the government to regulate over the top services in the country. In sub-Saharan Africa, the mobile revenue growth rate has been lagging since 2013 and it is expected to stay like this for at least a decade –despite a fast-growing subscriber base.
All over the continent subscribers show preference towards texting and making voice calls via platforms like WhatsApp, Skype and FB Messenger. This has constantly eaten up the traditional voice and messaging revenues, as per Global Trade Organization –GSMA.