Before I wrote this article I came up with several titles before discarding them all as being too unkind to Telecel. This is the kindest I could come up with and it is honestly speaking a lie. Telecel is not struggling to keep up with Econet and NetOne. Those two are now far ahead of Telecel in terms of market share. The latest numbers by POTRAZ from the second quarter of 2022 paint a sad and miserable picture of things at Telecel. There is hardly an arena in the Telecoms industry in which Telecel performed positively.

Telecel has a storied history. They are literary the reason we keep calling prepaid recharge vouchers-juice cards. They used to sell Mango Juice Cards which were Telecel recharge vouchers that came with cool branding. At some point, Telecel was bigger than NetOne and not much smaller than Econet. Now it is a distant third. The latest data from POTRAZ shows that:

  • Telecel now only has about 3.3% of the subscriber market in Zimbabwe. This means that they only have 3.3% market share.
  • During the second quarter of 2022, Telecel lost 54% of its share of internet traffic. It could be that as the economy is reopening people are using the internet less as schools and businesses are now operating as they did prior to the pandemic but it would be hard to see that accounting for such a massive drop in traffic
  • If you are wondering when was the last time you received a call from a Telecel number you are not alone. Telecel only accounted for a meagre 0.8% of all the voice calls made during this quarter.

A lot of people don’t even know that Telecel is still operating and selling lines. Their lines are often missing in the streets where NetOne and Econet lines are peddled with fervour. Data shows that even their Telecash product is not faring much better against OneMoney and Ecocash. It is hard to imagine it now but Telecel once had a product called Skwama back in the day before Ecocash was even conceived.

The best way to solve Telecel’s problems right now is to fold it into NetOne. Both entities belong to the Zimbabwean government and it’s not even clear why they have continued to operate separately for this long.Joining NetOne would certainly be a merciful way to bring it all to a close.