Econet’s 10 million subscriber base plans afoot

Zimbabwe-based cellular network operator Econet has confirmed it has acquired equipment for an expansion drive that will raise its subscriber base to around 10 million.

According to Econet’s corporate communications manager Ranga Mberi, the new equipment would take the company’s investment to the country’s record levels of over US$1 billion, further noting that the move will also see its investment in Zimbabwe exceed US$1 billion becoming the largest ever.

The new equipment in question to be supplied by Ericsson of Sweden and the Chinese company ZTE, Will enable Econet to offer other network based value added services, as approved by the company’s board of directors.

Econet added that shipment of the equipment, which began in the last few days is expected to continue till next year.

The company is also looking to spread its activities to new business ventures that are dependent on its network.

So far, it has Ecocash their mobile banking as their largest investment, which the company is developing to improve the acute shortage of cash in the economy.

EcoCash has made it possible for the public to transact without necessarily, having to use cash.
They also provide solar powered lighting that greatly depends on cell phone network.

A new service was introduced dubbed the Home Power Station (HPS) aimed at lighting up homes that are not connected to the national power grid in rural areas. The project has already embarked on pre-commercial trials.

Earlier this year, Econet’s chief executive Douglas Mboweni said discussions were ongoing with various international banks for a US$307 million association loan facility to finance capital projects.

The money from the banks will see the expansion of data services and introduction of new products to create more value, improve service quality and increase revenue.

Mboweni added that since mobile phone penetration was at an average of 74 percent, great opportunities to attain optimum penetration lay in capacity expansion. The company’s revenue grew by 24 percent with voice being the main contributor, improving from 66 percent last year to 68 percent this year, totalling US$611 million in the full year to February 2012 seeing it register a 17 percent increase after-tax profit to US$165 million.

Finance director Kris Chirairo said their revenue growth was as a result of the increase in their subscriber base as well as growth in usage of mobile telecommunication and data services which added 13 percent to group revenues.

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