THE government has completed the $40 million purchase of a 60 percent stake in mobile telecoms operator Telecel Zimbabwe from Vimpelcom, the communications minister said on Monday.
The Amsterdam-headquartered telecoms giant VimpelCom in November said it had agreed to sell its controlling stake in Telecel Zimbabwe to the government for $40 million.
Telecel is the country’s smallest mobile telecoms firm with over 2,4 million subscribers.
The purchase of Telecel was done through ZARNet, an Internet Service Provider (GISP) wholly owned by the government through the Ministry of Information & Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services which was set up in 1997.
The parastatal has no experience in telecommunications and lists on its website that it offers ICT solutions and e-learning platforms.
Information Communications Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira told a parliament committee that the government had raised the $40 million from state-run national pension fund, National Social Security Authority (NSSA).
“Telecel is now going to be a Zimbabwean entity,” said Mandiwanzira.
“Where they were paying management fees to Switzerland and to Amsterdam, Netherlands where Vimplecom is headquartered, those monies will not be leaving this country.
“Where Telecel Zimbabwe were paying for the use of the name Telecel, those fees will no longer be leaving the country because that name is now owned in Zimbabwe. So we are saving money that was being channeled out of Zimbabwe.”
Telecel’s remaining 40 percent is owned by Empowerment Corporation, a group of local shareholders who have also approached NSSA to buy their shares, Mandiwanzira said.
Government already controls another mobile operator in NetOne, which has 3,3 million subscribers according to latest official data as well as fixed line operator, TelOne