Brighter horizon in TZ’s communications landscape

THERE is a significant increase in the number of mobile money accounts, transactions and the value of the transactions in Tanzania, indicating a firm move towards financial inclusion, according to the latest communications sector statistics.

The June 2022 statistics published by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) also show that data continues to be the cheapest among the three key telecom services offered by mobile network operators in Tanzania.

It is estimated that more than one-third (41 per cent) of Tanzanians use mobile money services. There were approximately 24.9 million users of mobile money with active mobile money accounts.

The estimate is based on the number of active accounts and the average number of accounts per subscription. The average number of accounts per registered SIM card (subscriptions) is estimated to be 1.5; according to a study carried out by TCRA in 2018.

According to TCRA Director General, Dr Jabiri Bakari, some 37.4 million mobile money accounts were active in Tanzania by June 2022. These conducted a total of 343.6 million transactions; with a value of about 11.6tri/-.

TCRA further indicates that there were 35.7 million mobile money accounts, conducting 330.1 million transactions worth 10.7tri/- in the quarter ending March 2022.

On data tariffs, the statistics show that bundled and unbundled data services are the cheapest compared to voice and short messages (SMS).

The report shows that one MB was sold unbundled for 8/- compared to 32/- for voice calls on the user’s network (on-net) and another network (off-net).

Local SMS are charged at 11/-. One minute of voice is more expensive than a unit of SMS and data.

International calls continued to cost more than in the previous quarter (March 2022). One minute was 1,888/- compared to 1,601/- an 18 per cent increase.

Calling neighbouring countries (East Africa) cost 1,151/- a minute slightly cheaper than in the previous quarter (960/-).

According to the statistics, people talk and send SMS across networks (off-net) than within their networks (on-net), dispelling the belief that more calls, hence minutes, were made within networks. The price difference between On-Net and Off-Net calls has changed this. More talk time is now witnessed across networks than within networks.

The total average talk time per subscription was 470 and 527 minutes for the third and fourth quarters of 2022 respectively. This shows the talk time has increased significantly; by 12 per cent.

According to TCRA, Off-Net knocked down On-Net by having more average talking time per subscription. The average talking time across the network consists of slightly more than half (50.1 per cent) of talking time for all destinations. This is true for quarters ending March 2022 and June 2022.

On the other hand, people sent more SMS across networks than within their networks. An average of 664 SMS per subscription were sent during the quarter ending June 2022 and 619 during the quarter ending March 2022. More than half (57per cent) were sent across networks in both quarters.

This has corrected the belief that people talk more within networks because it was by then cheaper than across networks. This suggests that the choice of SIM cards does not depend anymore on the price of service within or across a network. They are now the same. The shift is now on the quality of services.

The statistics further show that telecommunications and internet subscriptions slowed down as penetration approached 100 and 50 per cent respectively.

It shows that by June 2022, there were 56.2 million active SIM cards; of which 52 per cent are online. While the number of registered SIM cards increased by two (2) per cent; from 55.4 million in March 2022 to 56.2 million in June, internet subscriptions dropped by the same percentage during the period; from 29.6 million to 29.1.

The two per cent drop in internet subscriptions is insignificant, and cannot be attributed to anything, and can be taken as a normal adjustment after some few subscribers failed to use the service for the previous three months. The same applies to telecom subscriptions, which have increased by two per cent in the quarter ending June 2022.

As of June 2022, telecom and internet penetration – the proportion of subscriptions compared to a country’s population – stood at 92 and 48 per cent respectively. Penetration is used as an indicator when measuring improvements in the industry.

While telecom penetration increased by one (1) per cent each year from 2019; internet penetration portrays ups and downs; levelling between 46 and 49 per cent. This signifies that subscription is not growing as fast as they used to be in the last ten years before 2018, statistics further indicate.

Although telecommunications services are spread all over Tanzania, there are places where the uptake is still low; as shown by the breakdown of registered SIM cards on the map below. The overall average subscription is 1.9 million per region.

In broadcasting, the statistics show that the Simiyu region has the lowest pay TV (direct to home – DTH) subscriptions but the highest cable tv subscriptions in Tanzania Mainland.

Simiyu has close to one quarter (22 per cent) of all cable TV subscriptions, which is the highest compared to all regions and less than one per cent (0.3 per cent) of all DTH Subscriptions in Tanzania mainland.

Dar es Salaam has the highest DTH subscriptions (39 per cent); followed by Arusha (10 per cent).

DTH Services are mainly provided by Azam, Dstv, Zuku and Star Times. Their services cover all regions.

By June 2022, there were 3.2 million and 20,724 DTH and cable TV subscriptions respectively.

TCRA collects communications statistics from all Communications Service Providers (CSPs); namely, telecommunications, internet, mobile money, broadcasting the national postal operator and courier companies.

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