State telcos owe Econet USD85m
GOVERNMENT| July 19, 2012, 12:02 p.m.
By Alfonce Mizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network, Econet, says it is owed USD85 million by State-owned entities, TelOne and NetOne, in interconnect fees, up from USD70 million from February this year.
Chief Executive Douglas Mboweni told the Parliamentary Committee on Media, Information and ICT development that the company has been trying to get the fees owed to them for a long time and would continue to hold discussions to have the money paid out. He however noted that this was affecting the group as it the interconnect fees were taxed on uncollected revenue.
Teledensity was at 78% and expected to reach 100% in 2014, he said. Mboweni said that an increase of 10 mobile phones per 100 people boosts GDP growth by 1.25% in developing countries.
Internet usage in Zimbabwe was at 30% against Africa’s average of 17% and slight below the rest of the world on 32%.
Mboweni defended the tariffs, saying Zimbabwe’s were cheap when compared to other countries in the region particularly South African.
“The tariffs are a product of costs that the company incurs from supporting the network.”
He reiterated that power outages continued to be major drag on operations but the group had 72% of the network under backup power in the form of generators, at a cost of USD15 million a year.
Mboweni said there was need for policy alignment especially on network development adding that the operators should be the drivers of this policy. He said this with regards the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is used to finance provision of services in under serviced areas, to which the network operators have to contribute a levy of 2% of their total revenue per year.
Mboweni said there was no accountability of the USF and all the money that the operators had paid prior to dollarization had gone into the pockets and was eventually swallowed up by hyperinflation.
“Even post dollarization there has been no meaningful investment, save for the 10 sites that are currently under construction,” adding that USF was no longer as relevant as it was in the past.
Mboweni also said that getting approvals for a site was long taking upwards of 12 months for a site to be approved thus affecting network grade of service and customer experience.
On network sharing, Mboweni the group currently had 300 shared sites with Telecel, Telone, NRZ and Local authorities. Only NetOne did not want to share. He noted that before the expansion, Econet had approached NetOne for infrastructure sharing but they had refused.
“And now because Econet has grown big after the expansion, the same network is crying foul that we do not want to share.”
Mboweni said that it costs between USD80 000 to USD250 000 to construct a base station.
Mboweni said that most of the dropped calls and non-delivered messages were mainly caused by power outages and that the calls have to pass through various stages in the network.
When asked about the littering of the environment by recharge cards, Mboweni said the group was moving towards the elimination of paper cards through the use of e-wallets, available on the Ecocash platform.
“We are encouraging our vendors to migrate to the electronic recharge cards,” he said.
Mboweni said the country was now covered under the network save for the national parks with a subscriber base of 6.4 million.
MORE GOVERNMENT NEWS
Ghana moots lifting of smartphone import taxThe Government of Ghana is set to consider the lifting of import tax duties on smart phones. Read More
Broadband ‘boosts growth’Every economy today requires broadband for growth and prosperity, says Joseph Tiampati, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology. Read More
CAK: all systems go for Universal Service FundKenya's long-awaited Universal Service Fund has finally become a reality and it aims to bridge the digital divide. Read More
Khama spells out ICT roadmap in SONAIn his first National Assembly address after his reelection, Botswana President Ian Khama told the nation that the implementation of the National Research, Science, Technology and Innovation policy (RSTI) has started. Read More
Ghana to launch first phase of National Fibre Network soonThe Government of Ghana is expected to officially commission the completion of work on the fibre optic network connecting the eastern corridor linking Ho in the Volta region and Bawku in the Northern Region of the country by the end of December this year. Read More
Botswana streets to come under surveillanceSelected streets in both big and small cities as well as villages will be under the permanent glare of video surveillance according to recent reports. Read More
NIPOST facilities to deepen digital transactionsNigeria’s Ministry of Communications Technology has said the infrastructure of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) would be deployed to boost digital transactions in the country, especially mobile money services. Read More
US$240 million to create Congo-Brazzaville’s digital economyCongo-Brazzaville needs 119 billion FCFA (about US$240 million) to create a powerful and competent digital economy. Read More
African, Norwegian leaders discuss accelerated infrastructure developmentMore than 400 African and Norwegian leaders, including 30 ambassadors from Norway and Africa, discussed how to accelerate African infrastructure through Norwegian-African work, trade and growth at the Norwegian-African Business Summit in Oslo. Read More
FEATURED STORYGSMA: half a billion mobile subscribers in SSA by 2020
The number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will pass the half billion mark in 2020, says a new GSMA report.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHAfrica lags on digital migration
Only three African countries have so far completed the digital migration process, and serious issues are hampering the migration in other nations.
COMPANY NEWSVMware Study: Businesses can Take Three Weeks to get Employees Mobile-Ready
EMEA businesses say concerns over trust, ownership and delivery capability may hold back taking advantage of the mobile cloud-era.