John Kachembere 13 April 2018
HARARE – TELECEL Zimbabwe (Telecel) is planning to invest in network
expansion as part of strategies to keep ahead of competition in the
country’s telecommunication industry.
This was revealed by the company’s chairperson James Makamba after the
six-member board, comprising Francis Mawindi, Selby Hwacha, Jane Mutasa,
Barbara Rwodzi and Gerald Mlotshwa, met in Harare on Wednesday.
“The meeting covered network expansion and capital investment options
amongst other topical strategic issues,” he said.
Telecel, whose majority stake was acquired by the Zimbabwean government
from Netherlands-based VimpelCom almost two years ago, is seeking $200
million to recapitalise its operations.
ICT minister Supa Mandiwanzira last year said part of the funds would be
used for network upgrade.
The country’s third largest mobile telecommunications firm has already
commenced the network upgrades necessary to close the identified and
well-known gaps in its service provision and rolled out its 4.5G LTE
infrastructure in late 2017.
“Shareholders and the Telecel team are working diligently to secure
additional funding in order to recapitalise the organisation and ensure
that Telecel competes effectively in the telecommunication industry. At
this stage, negotiations and discussions are ongoing with financiers for
an investment of over $200 million to kick-start the Telecel project,”
Mandiwanzira said then.
Government in 2016 announced that ZARNet had bought the 60 percent stake
in Telecel from Global Telecom Holding SAE, a subsidiary of VimpelCom.
The remaining 40 percent equity in Telecel is held by Empowerment
Corporation, a consortium of local empowerment groups.
Mandiwanzira, who was instrumental in the $40 million deal, recently said
he was inundated with calls from various investors who want to acquire
government’s 60 percent shareholding in the mobile network provider.
The Zimbabwe government is a major player in the telecommunications sector
as it also owns NetOne and TelOne.
“I want to make it very clear that I’m merely a custodian of government
assets as the minister of ICT. I don’t have an individual say on
government assets. As far as I’m concerned, I have no mandate to sell
government’s 60 percent shareholding in Telecel to…anybody.
“But that position may change should there be a serious offer backed by
proof of payment, ability to pay off outstanding obligations that are due
to shareholders of Telecel and that change does not come from me, but from
my principal and Cabinet,” he said. – The Financial Gazette