Since the beginning of the 21st century, Zimbabwe has struggled to feed its own people due to severe droughts and the effects of a land reform programme which saw the seizure of white-owned farms redistributed to landless black Zimbabweans which led to sharp falls in production. Cash-strapped and impoverished, Zimbabwe’s economy is facing severe challenges.
The Internet penetration rate was over 41% in 2016. There are microwave radio relay links, open-wire lines, radiotelephone communication stations, fixed wireless local loop installations, fiber-optic cable, VSAT terminals, and a substantial mobile-cellular network. Internet connection is most readily available in Harare and major towns. 3G and VoIP services are widely available with 4G/LTE service being deployed.
Competition has recently driven rapid expansion of telecommunications, particularly cellular voice and mobile broadband, in recent year. Continued economic instability and infrastructure limitations, such as reliable power, hinder progress. Compared to telephones or the postal service, the internet provides the easiest and cheapest way of communication between Zimbabweans in the country and their relatives, some of whom have gone abroad. The Postal & Telecommunications Regulatory Authority is the agency dedicated to regulating telecom activity in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s economy depends heavily on its mining and agriculture sectors. Following a decade of contraction from 1998 to 2008, the economy recorded real growth of more than 10% per year in the period 2010-13, before slowing to roughly 4% in 2014 due to poor harvests, low diamond revenues, and decreased investment. Growth turned negative in 2016. Lower mineral prices, infrastructure and regulatory deficiencies, a poor investment climate, a large public and external debt burden, and extremely high government wage expenses impede the country’s economic performance.
International financial institutions want Zimbabwe to implement significant fiscal and structural reforms. Foreign and domestic investment continues to be hindered by the lack of land tenure and titling, the inability to repatriate dividends to investors overseas, and the lack of clarity regarding the government’s Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act.
TelOne is one of the leading companies operating in the Zimbabwean telecoms and technology industry. Its main core business revolves around voice, data and internet products and services. The telecoms company is 100% owned by the government of Zimbabwe and holds a monopoly on fixed-line phone services. TelOne has the widest network coverage in Zimbabwe anchored on its backbone infrastructure, fibre, satellite and traditional copper. The company is able to deliver high internet bandwidth to the ordinary Zimbabweans at low prices due to their shareholding in the West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC). The company boasts of a fully equipped training centre – the TelOne Centre for Learning (TCFL) which nurtures creativity, innovation, new ways of working, interacting and learning to support modern ICT and business dynamics.