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TelOne seeks USD100m

By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe

Almost six months after receiving Zimbabwe’s fourth GSM licence, State-owned fixed telephone operator TelOne is looking for USD100 million from foreign investors, to roll out its network.

The State already owns a GSM operator, NetOne, the smallest of the country’s three mobile operators behind Econet Wireless and Orascom’s Zimbabwean unit, Telecel. The regulator, Zimbabwe’s Postal & Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) said in March that it had not given TelOne fixed timelines to roll out mobile services because of financial concerns, but sources in the industry told Biztechafrica that the parastatal has been scouring the Middle East and Asia in search of potential partners.

Reports last month suggested that Mahanganagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) an Indian state owned telecoms firm was considering acquiring a 51% stake in TelOne as part of its plans to enter the African cellular turf in the near future.

This is doubtful .since local legislation demands that any controlling stake remains in State hands.

TelOne acting managing director Hampton Mhlanga said there was no agreement yet with any investor.

“The introduction of mobile services will ensure that we will be able to reach all those areas we could not because of vandalism and cable theft on our fixed line network,” he said.

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