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Douglas Mboweni

By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe

Econet is still focused on increasing subscriber numbers while continuing to develop its data product in line with international trends, chief executive Douglas Mboweni told the group’s AGM today.

Mboweni said the group will change focus to usage and other overlay services once 100% penetration is achieved.

He added that the penetration rate is currently at 78% and will reach 100% in 2014.  He said an increase of 10 mobile phones per 100 people boosts GDP growth by 1.2% in developing countries.

“In terms of internet penetration, Zimbabwe at 30% is ahead of the African average of 17% and slightly below the world’s average at 32%.

Mboweni said the country’s tariffs,  often said to be high, were very competitive, with Econet’s peak tariffs of 20 cents way below MTN (SA)’s 33 cents, Vodacom (SA)’s 31 cents but above Airtel Zambia’s 19 cents and Botswana’s Mascom at 18 cents.

He added that Econet’s tariffs had remained at current levels despite the increased costs brought by the need to power base stations with generators.

Mboweni said there were still a lot of opportunities for Econet to pursue in the ICT industry, giving an example of EcoCash, where he says there is potential to tap into the R5 billion sent home by Zimbabweans working in South Africa. He also talked about opportunities in “e-government, e-learning, telemedicine and e-health.

He said at least 2.5 million subscribers were connected to the broadband, while 1.5 million previously unbanked individuals were connected to EcoCash. He said the group had 31 New Generation Shops, 1 000 direct employees and had created 20 000 employment opportunities. 

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