Unaffordable internet has been identified by information communication (ICT) experts as the major reason behind dwindling internet and data usage in Zimbabwe as recently observed by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ).

Potraz noted a marked decline in internet and data usage, fixed voice and mobile voice traffic.

“The sector recorded a 14,9% decline in mobile data usage from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022,” Potraz observed.

Media Institute of Southern Africa legal and ICT policy officer Nompilo Simanje mentioned that the dwindling trends in internet usage are due to several factors and internet affordability remains the largest contributor. The cost of data has been going up in all reviews and that has not been supported by income levels going up. People cannot afford internet access as they have other basic needs to prioritise such as food.

“The issue of electricity and the load shedding taking place in Zimbabwe has affected data usage, especially for fixed broadband users. To those with no broadband and using mobile data, there have been complaints that the quality of broadband is not good during load shedding periods thus reducing internet usage.” Officer Nompilo said.

Media analyst Gibson Nyikadzino also suggested that government should consider data access as a basic right.

“The government should bring up all its mechanisms and forces to ensure that people have access to data through subsidies thereby increasing internet usage,” he added.

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