Data Drives Telecommunications Sector Revenue to E2.3 Billion

By Phiwa Sikhondze

The telecommunications sector in Eswatini recorded a 2.3% increase in revenue for the 2022/23 financial year, reaching close to E2.3 billion.

This is according to the 2023 Eswatini Communications Commission (ESCCOM) Annual Report.

The report shows that data services were the main driver of revenue growth, as data revenue rose by 3.6% to about E930 million, reflecting the growing demand for data connectivity and smartphone devices.

Voice revenue also rebounded from a decline in the previous year, growing by 1.5% to E820 million, thanks to the increase in domestic voice traffic on mobile networks, which accounted for over 90% of the total voice traffic.

However, SMS revenue faced a 15% decline, dropping from about E11 million to about E9 million, as more users switched to cheaper and more convenient over-the-top (OTT) services for texting and video calls.

The Commission also reveals that the mobile market experienced a negative growth in SIM subscriptions, which decreased by 0.8%, due to the deactivation of non-compliant SIM cards as per the SIM Card registration regulations.

“The negative growth in mobile cellular SIM subscriptions compared to the 19% growth recorded in the previous period is attributed to the deactivation of SIM subscriptions. These are SIM cards that were non-compliant with SIM Card registration regulations,” the report states.

Mobile broadband subscriptions, on the other hand, saw a slight increase of 0.8%, influenced by favorable pricing and offers for mobile data and smartphones.

The report also shows that the domestic and international voice traffic on both mobile and fixed networks continued to decline in the period under review.

“Domestic voice traffic growth slowed to 0.2% from 3,890,546,245 minutes to 3,899,124,632 minutes, with a decline in fixed network voice traffic due to the theft of copper cables.”

International voice traffic recorded a 19% decrease from about 43 million minutes to about 35 million minutes, influenced by both macroeconomic and technological factors, such as the recovery in tourism and corporate travel, and the growing mobile smartphone ownership that enables the use of VoIP services.

“The downward trend in international voice traffic is attributed to the growing usage of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services provided by over-the-top providers (OTT) at a very low or no cost. International mobile roaming extends the coverage of the home operator’s retail voice and SMS services, allowing the mobile user to continue using their home operator’s phone number and data services within another country,” the report notes.

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