State telcos owe Econet USD85m
GOVERNMENTBy BiztechAfrica - 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
Kenyan capital adopts e-payment systemThe Nairobi City County Government has moved to ease payment for services and streamline revenue collection by switching to e-payments. Read More
Congo-Brazzaville to launch digital governance agencyThe Republic of Congo will soon launch a digital governance agency, to monitor and control the implementation of the country’s ICT projects. Read More
Malawi launches Internet Governance ForumThe Malawi Government and Nepad have launched the Malawi Internet Governance Forum in an effort to bring a semblance of order to the internet services in the country. Read More
Environmentalists welcome improved technologyParticipants in a recent Monitoring For Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) conference in Botswana were upbeat about the new technologies that MESA is harnessing. Read More
Kaberuka addresses Africa’s infrastructure gap at OECDAfrican Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka made a strong case for the importance of tackling private investment impediments in the African infrastructure agenda during the joint AfDB, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and International Growth Center (IGC) event in Paris. Read More
Kenya inaugurates USACKenya’s new Universal Service Advisory Council (USAC) has been inaugurated by the Cabinet Secretary, Information, Communications and Technology. Read More
Education Minister: ICT vital in schoolsBotswana’s Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development, Mokgweetsi Masisi, has called for an increased uptake of ICTs in all schools in the country. Read More
Innovation Hub introduces new officesThe Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) has opened two new offices to services its wider clientele base. Read More
Orange, DRC govt sign fibre optic dealOrange and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo have signed a deal which will see Orange take control of the country’s fibre optic platform. Read More
FEATURED STORYWidening ICT skills gap: Cause for concern
Nigeria's FDI gains could be eroded by the widening gap in indigenous skilled ICT manpower, writes Kokumo Goodie.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHKenya rolls out e-extension to improve agriculture
In a bid to curb the overwhelmed number of agricultural extension officers in Kenya, the ministry of agriculture is embracing technology with their introduction of E-Extension services, which are aimed at reaching out to over 7 million farmers annually.
COMPANY NEWSVMware reports second quarter 2014 results
VMware, the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure, today announced financial results for the second quarter of 2014.New Sage ERP X3 version puts business information at your fingertips
Sage ERP Africa has announced the availability of Sage ERP X3 version 7, the latest version of its global business management solution for midsized companies.How the cloud can power entrepreneurship and urbanisation in Africa
Cloud computing is not only fundamentally changing the way business operates, it is also driving a new wave of job creation opportunities, says SAP Africa.