South Africa’s networks had lower revenue growth than the IT sector last year

BMIT and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) recently released reports about the country’s information and communications technology industry, with some interesting differences in their overall statistics.

BMIT reported total revenue growth of 3.7% across the ICT industry in 2021, while Icasa’s figures showed an increase in income of 0.03% — or R640 million.

Icasa reported that the total revenue generated by the ICT industry was R243.6 billion in 2021, compared to R243 billion in 2020.

Notably, Icasa includes the IT, broadcasting, and postal sectors, while BMIT’s report is specific to only the IT sector.

Therefore, it appears that the broadcasting and postal services sectors pull down the overall revenue figures in Icasa’s report.

BMIT reported a slight increase of 1.2% in revenue generated in the telecoms sector in 2021. It emphasised that the figure was pulled into the positive by significant growth in the residential broadband market.

It attributed the growth to the substantial work from home demand in 2021, adding that the overall telecoms market would have declined had it not been for such demand.

Icasa, on the other hand, reported a 0.5% decrease in overall revenue generated by the telecoms market in 2021.

The authority uses questionnaires — customised for each sector, including broadcasting and postal services — to solicit data from licensees on the ICT market in South Africa.

BMIT also uses questionnaires but only sends them to South African IT service providers. It also collects information from annual reports published by IT service providers and other relevant information in the public domain.

The overall ICT revenue growth in 2021 of 3.7% is below the global average, but some subsectors — like hardware — saw revenue increases of up to 8.4% — BMIT SA ICT Market Growth in 2020 and 2021 report

The reports also differ because Icasa conducts its surveys yearly, while BMIT sends out questionnaires on an annual and quarterly basis.

Icasa’s report also provided a breakdown of the revenue generated by fixed-line and mobile telecommunications services.

It revealed that South Africa’s mobile network operators generate around 74% more revenue than fixed-line service providers and that data services tend to dominate the telecommunications industry.

South Africa’s mobile network providers received R114 billion in revenue during 2021, with revenue from data services making up almost 50%.

On the other hand, fixed-line providers generated R30 billion, 78% of which was income from data services.

Icasa’s report showed that revenue generated by mobile service providers is on the up, having risen by approximately R13 billion since 2018.

Regarding fixed-line data services, revenue has dropped, with income generated in 2019 reaching around R27 billion. This figure fell by about 12.3% to R23.5 billion in 2021.

Icasa’s report also showed that fixed-line provioders’ broadband data services grew in 2021, generating R13 billion, or 56.5% of fixed-line data revenue.

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South Africa’s networks had lower revenue growth than the IT sector last year