NetOne secures USD60m loan for broadband services

By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's state-owned mobile operator NetOne has secured a USD60 million loan from local and foreign banks and plans to roll out broadband services by the end of the year.

The company’s managing director, Reward Kangai, said the funds were from China Export-Import Bank and local institutions; Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, CBZ Bank and BancABC.

NetOne has the largest network reach in the country, but lack of investment has seen it fall behind its competitors.

Despite pioneering mobile services in the country in 1997, it is now the smallest of the three major networks by subscribers, with one million subscribers after Econet, (6 million) and the Zimbabwean unit of Orascom Telecom Holdings, Telecel (1.4 million).

Econet has been offering broadband services for several years now while Telecel launched similar services early this year.

NetOne also faces competition from new telecommunications companies entering the voice and data services market in Zimbabwe such as Africom and Brodacom, who offer cheaper and faster services although their reach is limited to major towns.

Kangai said NetOne was looking to increase internet access for its customers throughout the country.

“We are installing equipment all over the country with the funds availed. We are waiting for the test run which is being done on some of our customers,” he said.

The mobile operator planned to connect to the East Africa Submarine Eassy cable system through infrastructure provided by TelOne, a government owned fixed phone operator.

Last month, Kangai said the company has been approached by six foreign companies seeking to buy a stake in the mobile operator. Bharti Airtel and MTN Group are seen as front runners.

But Kangai said the company was hindered by the country's telecommunications laws from selling more than 49% of its shares to a strategic investor.

Share this News
Share |
Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter here