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Zimbabwe govt begins Telecel takeover

The government has made a move to take over a majority stake in Telecel, as The Zimbabwe Independent reports.

The deal will be carried out via state-owned ISPZarnet, with support from the government pension fund, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), as the report states Zarnet has agreed to pay $40 million for Amsterdam-based Vimpelcom’s 60% stake and the assumption of Telecel’s debt, which totals around $80 million to $100 million.

The NSSA is thought to be fronting the money for Zarnet, and if the cash-strapped ISP fails to make the required repayments then the NSSA will assume control of the majority interest in Telecel. The government is hoping to take full control of Telecel by also buying out 40% shareholder Empowerment Corp (EC), which is a consortium of local investors, though negotiations are said to have stalled due to EC’s valuation of its stake.

While there has been no official confirmation from any of the parties involved, the Independent writes that it “has it on good authority that the deal has been closed”.

Telecel has been under fire for some time over problems with its mobile licence renewal payments and also its ownership structure, with Zimbabwean law requiring the country’s telcos to be at least 51% domestically owned. The operator lost second position in the wireless market to state-owned NetOne in 2014, and claimed around two million subscribers by the end of June 2015.

Source: CommsMEA

Zimbabwe: Telecel Zim enters mobile money remittance race

Telecel Zimbabwe, the Southern African country’s second largest mobile operator and the company behind the Telecash mobile money service, said on Tuesday morning that it has now been given the nod to receive remittances from outside the country.
Rival operator Econet Wireless has already been authorised to undertake cross-border remittances from South Africa for its mobile money wallet, EcoCash.
Telecel Zimbabwe said it has “been granted authority by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to receive incoming international remittances directly into subscribers’ Telecash wallets”.
It has joined hands with money transfer company Mukuru.com to “immediately avail the service to its customers” and it added that it was finalising another partnership with Western Union.
“Zimbabwe has a huge diaspora community which looks after family and friends locally and this new international remittance licence will have a huge impact on the convenience our Telecash subscribers experience while receiving money from outside our borders,” said Arthur Matsaudza, the head of mobile financial services at Telecel Zimbabwe.
Matsaudza said the central bank had given the company the go-ahead for international remittances straight into its subscriber’s mobile money wallets after gauging the telco’s adherence to depositors funds security and anti money laundering regulations. .
Telecel CEO Angeline Vere has confirmed the company’s long-term strategy to use partnerships to “increase the convenience of its customers”.
“We are currently in talks with various international remittance partners with key corridors in SA, Botswana, UK, Australia and the US amongst other potential countries. We are very confident these partnerships will change the overall mobile financial service experience our customers will have on our Telecash platform,” said Vere.

Source: IT Web Africa

Zimbabwe: Zimbabweans furious with SA-based money transfer firm

Clients of South Africa based money transfer service Kawena Distributors are reportedly livid with the company after being notified that 70% of money sent through to recipients in Zimbabwe will have to be used to make purchases from its retail partner, OK Zimbabwe.
It is understood that this was never part of the terms and conditions for those who signed up with the service.
To send money, the client must register, and then issued with an OK Shop Easy card. Zimbabweans in South Africa then make payment to their beneficiary’s OK/Kawena Shop Easy Card.
Payment is electronically credited into the recipient’s card and can be used to make purchases at any OK, Bon Marche or OK Supermarkets in Zimbabwe.
“As from 21 November all clients will have to spend 70 % on grocery and 30% on cash when sending money to Zimbabwe,” claimed a notice at one of Kawena offices.
Network collapse
User anger intensified last week when Kawena’s network collapsed and over 10 000 clients were requested to deposit their money into the Kawena account in South Africa.
Frustrated clients are not able to send money or withdraw monies already sent through.
There has also been speculation over whether the company was in fact still in operation, with one of its clients, believed to be a competitor, engaging Facebook to communicate this message.
Kawena Distributors has denied the allegations saying it could not be further from the truth and “nothing more than malicious lies from a desperate company which cannot gain any traction in this market.”
“Kawena Distributors has been in operation for over 26 years and many more to come, our partnership with OK Zimbabwe continues to operate,” the money transfer company stated.
The company did not mention the name of the competitor and threatened to take legal action should “slanderous attacks” against it continue.
Meanwhile, Kawena Distributors have told clients,” Please be aware that all withdrawal limits in Zimbabwe are managed and controlled by the management of OK Zimbabwe.”
According to figures from the Zimbabwe Ministry of Industry and Commerce, in 2014 about 1.9 million Zimbabweans in South Africa remit about R6.7m back to Zimbabwe each year. Approximately 20% of this money is used as remittance fees and an estimated 60% of people in Zimbabwe depend on remittances.

Source: IT Web Africa

Zimbabwe: Potraz to Review Licensing Framework

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe says the current service specific licensing framework is being reviewed because the obsolete regime stifles growth of the industry.

POTRAZ is working to overhaul the system it says is no longer sustainable, as it has been overtaken by dynamics in technology revolution, and replace it with a technology and service neutral framework.

The old adopted licensing framework was service specific and in some instances went further to prescribe the technology to be deployed. Sections of the Telecoms Act provide for an option to licence either services only or infrastructure only or to combine both services and infrastructure. The current scenario where service-specific licensing is being used is no longer sustainable in a converged environment, POTRAZ said, as it has been rendered obsolete in addressing market conditions and definitions emerging due technological changes.

“An extensive international benchmarking exercise done by POTRAZ identified that the existing licensing regime falls short on flexibility; stifles innovation and is also not in line with current international practice,” POTRAZ said in a consultation paper on convergence.

In keeping with its values of transparency, responsiveness and predictability, POTRAZ is consulting on changes it proposes to make to the licensing framework to accommodate recent advances in technology and changes in consumer needs, tastes and expectations. Technological evolution means traditional market boundaries are increasingly getting blurred. Multiple services can now be offered over a single platform opening up opportunities for operators to exploit economies of scope and scale to offer services at lower costs.

This means service specific licences are no longer sustainable as they hamper the ability to take advantage of efficiencies brought about by technological innovation in order to respond to consumer demands. As such, POTRAZ has proposed changes to the licensing framework to cater for evolving consumer needs, advent of multimedia services (triple play and quad-play); next generation networks and modern business models for the fast changing ICT sector.

Digitalisation of transmission, main streaming of internet protocol (IP) and computerisation of consumer devices has led to the obliteration of the hitherto distinction between data and voice services.

Today’s user devices such as smart phones, iPads, laptop (device convergence) are capable of receiving and transmitting voice, video and data while on the move, the essence of device convergence.

Access network, wireline or wireless (Access Network Convergence (3G, WIMAX, LTE, WIFI): can carry voice, video and data. Today’s core network (Core Network convergence (All IP) is predominantly all IP and is therefore capable of processing triple play or quadruple play in a manner transparent to the user.

POTRAZ said different nations and institutions globally are adapting new policies, regulations, and institutional frameworks to keep pace with an increasingly converging telecommunications sector.

The International Telecommunications Union-Development Sector (ITU-D) identified the need for service and technology neutral licensing and tasked its Study Group 1 (SG1) to prepare a simplified roadmap to assist regulatory authorities with convergence and transition to next generation network (NGN) environment.

The roadmap comprises three stages, POTRAZ said, the first is specific-licence per service, the second being consolidation of closely related service-based licence categories with the final stage being that of technology and service neutral licences (unified licence). Trends in Tanzania, Nigeria, Malaysia, India, Zambia, Kenya, among others confirmed that most developing countries have adopted the roadmap.

Mature markets such as USA, Japan, France and UK are already at the last stage of the ITU roadmap and are now implementing light touch regulation.

Source: The Herald

Zimbabwe: mobile tariff increase unlikely

Zimbabwean telecommunications companies are likely to hit a brick wall in their quest for a tariff increase for mobile voice calls as the government believes the struggling economy is over-priced, officials have told ITWeb Africa.
Local telcos Econet Wireless, Telecel Zimbabwe, NetOne and TelOne have written to the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) seeking permission to raise tariffs.
This comes after the government ordered local telcos to cut tariffs by 35% earlier this year.
However, government sources have said the issue has now been referred to the Zimbabwean ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira, but stressed that the local economy was over-priced and hence the decision to enforce the tariff cut in January this year.
“It’s unlikely that a tariff increase will be approved because a further tariff reduction has already been approved. But it’s all now for the minister to decide although he will have to explain to cabinet why a tariff increase should be approved when all other sectors are instituting cost reductions to correct high prices and profiteering in the economy,” said a government official, declining to be named.
The Zimbabwean ICT Minister could not be reached for comment on Monday.
In their position paper, submitted recently to Potraz, telcos said “the prevailing economic decline and tight regulatory environment have resulted in subdued performance of the telecoms industry.”
They said the introduction of a new costing model had worsened revenue decline in the industry and requested that authorities set aside the 35% tariff reduction which equates to 16 cents per minute on mobile voice calls, and instead institute a 15% reduction from 2014 levels.
“The impact on VAT revenues is that $19 million less per quarter is being remitted to the fiscus and an estimated $40 million less per year in corporate income tax. This results in $120 million lower annual contribution,” claimed the telcos.
The government is also likely to dig its heels in over the telcos’ request to scrap a 5% duty on data and voice airtime top-ups.

Source: IT Web Africa

Zimbabwe: TelOne hoping to secure USD98m loan by year end

Zimbabwe’s state-owned fixed line operator TelOne says it expects to conclude a USD98 million loan facility with China’s Exim Bank by the end of the year. The funds will be used to finance its network modernisation programme, which includes the deployment of new fibre-optic backbone infrastructure. TelOne’s chairman Charles Shamu told local business news portal The Source: ‘It is a vendor financed loan … it’s not a normal credit loan so the vendor is part of the team that ensures the project is profitable because they get paid from the proceeds. The project is self financing.’

Source: TeleGeography

Zimbabwe: Netone Urged to Improve Financial Performance

State-owned mobile phone provider, NetOne must improve its financial performance so that it can declare dividends to its shareholder, a Cabinet minister said on Wednesday.

The mobile operator posted a net loss of $5,8 million in the first half of 2015, down from an $8,5 million profit during the comparable period in 2014. While its revenue surged 14 percent to $57,8 million, the firm said profitability was weighed down by investments in expansion projects. ICT, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira told a NetOne annual general meeting that the board and management of the company should work harder to improve profitability.

“I was given a mandate to ensure that State enterprises under the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services are performing and the only way we can measure performance is when you declare a dividend to Government,” the minister said. “So we are expecting that you declare a dividend to Government. But do not give us a dividend when it is not there.”

Minister Mandiwanzira added: “Perform, make profit and deliver the dividend.” He urged NetOne to emulate its sister parastatal, fixed line telephone operator, TelOne in terms of business practices and profitability.

TelOne has turned around its operations under the stewardship of its new chief executive Chipo Mtasa, having posted a net profit of $480 000 for the full year ended June 2015.

The telecommunication company had recorded consecutive losses since 2013. “TelOne is ahead of you in terms of their act. They held an annual general meeting (AGM) a few days ago. They are now doing things transparently, professionally with accounts presented to the public and stakeholders.

“So we want to see you not lagging behind but being at the same level as TelOne or probably even do better,” he said. NetOne is Zimbabwe’s second largest mobile firm with an active subscriber base of 3,1 million.

Source: The Herald

Zimbabwe: MoneyGram, Econet’s latest money transfer partner

Traditional money transfer organisations such as MoneyGram are banking on the rollout of self-service to withstand growing competition from emerging mobile money platforms, which are now being embraced through partnerships.
MoneyGram on Wednesday announced a partnership with Zimbabwe’ EcoCash, run by Econet Wireless, the largest telecom company in the southern African country.
Econet already has partnerships with Western Union and WorldRemit.
Economic hardship in Zimbabwe has forced many citizens to seek greener pastures in other countries in Africa and elsewhere in Europe, in the USA and Australia.
The EcoCash and MoneyGram partnership will enable expat Zimbabweans from 200 countries across the world to send money directly to the mobile wallets of recipients back home.
MoneyGram’s Vice President for Africa Herve Chomel and the company’s regional director of southern and eastern Africa Anton Luttig both attended the press conference launch of the partnership on 21 October.
Chomel said MoneyGram had adopted a strategy to expand “self-service offerings” aimed at ensuring relevance in the money remittance scene. Other operators are also embracing digital platforms in order to keep up with demand.
“With the service, we are offering millions of consumers, many in remote areas of the country, access to a fast, reliable and secure method of transferring money, much of which is used to purchase life essentials and daily expenses,” he said.
Econet has about 4.9 million registered mobile money users, according to stats released last week by the company. It also added that agents for the mobile money platform had surged to 20 000 spread across the country.
Douglas Mboweni, the chief executive officer of Econet Wireless said that the Zimbabwean telecom company now had “a strong presence in Zimbabwe’s digital environment” and highlighted that tying up with MoneyGram would bring “more options to our consumers”.
“In-wallet remittances are becoming more topical, not only in driving access to international remittances for the previously unbanked but also driving further financial inclusion as we link the diaspora and home,” added Mboweni.

Source: IT Web Africa

Zimbabwe’s Econet stumbles as economy falters

Revenue generation for Zimbabwe’s Econet Wireless tumbled 17.7% for the half year period to the end of August, the company announced Wednesday, highlighting, however, that income from value added services was strengthening.
The company has mobile network, mobile money, mobile insurance and vehicle tracking services among other operations.
It has also ventured into banking after buying out former chairman Tawanda Nyambirai’s controlling interest in TN Bank, which has since been rebranded as Steward Bank.
Zimbabwean mobile companies have complained of the impact that a government directive to reduce mobile voice tariffs has had on revenue generation.

Econet Wireless said revenue for the half year period declined from $323 million from the previous contrasting period’s revenue position of $392.3 million.
Subscribers had nearly stagnated after rising by a smaller 1.8% margin to 9.1 million. Experts argue that the Zimbabwean mobile market has reached saturation in a country that has a population of about 13 million and includes operators such as NetOne, which has around 3 million subscribers, as well as Telecel Zimbabwe with a subscriber base of approximately 2.5 million.
“Zimbabwe is to ramp up gold production to 18 tonnes this year although platinum and chrome output is expected to be lower as mining companies in the mineral rich southern African country grapple with power outages, a worsening economy and increased revenue demands from the government,” Econet said in a statement accompanying its financial report for the period under review.
After tax profits for the period tumbled from $49.6 million in the 2014 interim period to $23.8 million in the half year period to the end of August 2015. Basic earnings per share also fell from 3.2 cents in the prior year comparative period to 1.5 cents.

Source: IT Web Africa

Zimbabwe: Econet introduces debit card tap and pay

Econet Wireless has introduced a tap and pay service on its mobile money debit card for small point of sale as it expands its EcoCash service portfolio.
Zimbabwe is making strides in the mobile money industry. Other notable adopters of mobile money include Kenya and Tanzania. The EcoCash mobile money platform, run by Econet Wireless, now has more than 3 million registered users, according to the company.
Econet Services chief executive officer, Jimmy Shindi, said on Monday that this was in line with trends in developed economies that have adopted cashless transactions riding on mobile money, credit and debit cards.
“Zimbabwe now has the same cashless infrastructure in place as the most advanced economies in the world,” he said.

The company said the “contactless tap and pay (service) means that for transactions under $5 for up to a daily cap of $100, a person no longer has to enter a PIN number on a Point of Sale terminal”.
Purchasers only “need … to tap the machine and payment is recognised,” said a process official at the company who added that the system will eliminate long queues.
The EcoCash Card is directly linked onto the user’s EcoCash mobile money wallet. Additionally, cardholders have the option to link it up with their bank accounts, Econet Wireless explained.
The company has already lined up retailers and fast food operators such as OK Zimbabwe, TM, Pick n Pay and Spar as well as Chicken Inn and Nando’s counters.
On Monday and Tuesday this week Econet held an expo dubbed Beyond the Phone where it showcased its value added services and product portfolios as it seeks a bigger share of the Zimbabwean mobile and related services industry.

Source: IT Web Africa

Zimbabwe: Telecel: LTE not until 2016

Zimbabwe’s third mobile operator Telecel has revealed that it plans to launch 4G LTE services next year, saying the market is still not ready for the high speed technology. A report from local news portal TechZim cites Telecel CEO Angeline Vere as saying that the return on investment for LTE in Zimbabwe ‘doesn’t warrant a huge rollout’. Rival firms NetOne and Econet Wireless have already been pushing ahead with their own 4G deployments, with Econet announcing this week that it had begun offering LTE services for 4G-enabled smartphone users as well as via dongles. Smartphone penetration in Zimbabwe stands at around 20%, which Vere says limits the potential impact of LTE, and most 4G-ready handsets are still much too expensive for the average Zimbabwean. Vere says Telecel is currently concentrating on consolidating its 2G and 3G networks before moving on to more advanced systems.

Source: TeleGeography

Zimbabwe: Econet drags Zim regulator to court

Econet Wireless is fighting the Zimbabwean telecommunications watchdog, Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) in court over a directive to have mobile companies lower voice tariffs.
The directive, said Econet Wireless, had driven down revenues for the company, forcing it to resort to cost cutting measures such as retrenching workers. Early this year, Zimbabwe ordered mobile firms to reduce tariffs by 30%.
Other mobile companies in Zimbabwe have also sought to reduce their cost structures.
However, Potraz has said in a recent report that growing competition from cheaper communication alternatives such as WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook was to blame for revenue declines in the industry than the directive to reduce tariffs.

“The fall in revenue created by a Potraz regulatory directive, which the company is contesting in court, had resulted in a decline in revenue,” Econet said last night.
Econet Wireless chief executive officer, Douglas Mboweni, said the company will award shares to staff who accept the retrenchment offer.
“The shares are not part of the retrenchment package but are an incentive for speedy closure of the retrenchment process that will reward long service with the company.
“This award will only be available to those employees who have been identified for retrenchment, who voluntarily agree to abide by the process and time-frames outlined in the retrenchment process,” said Mboweni.
He added that the “award of shares will be done after the retrenchment process” is completed.
The process will affect about 100 employees at the company after “Econet “undertook a comprehensive review of its staffing levels”

Source: IT Web Africa

Zimbabwe: Econet rolls out LTE internet for mobile devices

Econet Wireless has rolled out LTE internet service in Zimbabwe as it bids to win over more customers and grow revenues from its data portfolio.
LTE internet, also known as 4G, allows for fast speed internet accessibility that gives massive download speeds. Mobile operators across the world are deploying LTE internet for both GSM and CDMA platforms.
“4G LTE is now available on LTE enabled smartphones,” Econet Wireless said in a texted message to subscribers on Friday.
It says in a separate update on its website that LTE allows for “high speed, seamless Internet connectivity” on mobile phones. “Now you can watch live TV, make video calls, stream live matches, play games online and download movies on the move,” Econet Wireless added.

In 2013, Econet became the seventh mobile operator in Africa to offer LTE connectivity although it was only restricted to accessibility through modems.
Launched ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly meeting in Victoria Falls in 2013, the LTE service has until now been available at all of Zimbabwe’s airports and the CBDs of Harare and Bulawayo as well as in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
Expansion of the service to mobile phones marks a new development for the company as it enhances its revenues from the data segment.
Econet, like all other mobile operators in Africa, is looking to grow data usage to cover for declining revenues from the voice category.
Another Zimbabwean mobile operator, the state owned NetOne, is also progressing with its network upgrade at a cost of about $200 million. It is expected that this will bring 4G internet connectivity to the network.

Source: It Web Africa

Zimbabwe: TelOne looking to transfer legacy debt to government

The government of Zimbabwe could assume USD322 million of debt from state-owned fixed line and broadband operator TelOne, in a move designed to improve the telco’s position with regard to securing additional financing. TelOne inherited loans totalling approximately USD330 million when it was spun off from the former Postal and Telecommunications Corporation (PTC) in 2000. The Zimbabwe Independent quotes a company statement which says the removal of the debt from the balance sheet would allow the company to access loans at reasonable rates. A bill for the assumption of the debt would need to be tabled in parliament. TelOne recently reported a 9% year-on-year fall in revenues for the six months to 30 June 2015 to USD69 million.

Source: TeleGeography

Zimbabwe: The new battleground for Zim telcos

The battle for market share in Zimbabwe’s mobile telecommunications industry is heating up and has assumed a new frontier – retail outlets.
Zimbabwe has three mobile companies – Telecel Zimbabwe, Econet Wireless and state controlled NetOne – that are battling for increased market share in a country with 13 million people.
Econet is the market leader with 9 million subscribers followed by NetOne, with about 3 million, and Telecel Zimbabwe with approximately 2.5 million.
Although experts say the mobile market in Zimbabwe is nearing saturation, it appears though that the telcos are fighting hard to gain more customers through enhanced visibility and significance.
Econet, NetOne and Telecel are boosting the presence of branded retail outlets that offer support service, mobile money transactions and accessories such as mobile phones, mobile lines, support and backup.
Telecel Zimbabwe said on Tuesday that it has nearly doubled its outlets and kiosks to 200.
The corporate shops and kiosks run by Zimbabwean telcos also offer employment opportunities for the country’s entrepreneurs.
“The kiosks are expected to markedly improve convenience and ease of service provision on Telecash especially on cash-ins and cash-outs as they will increase availability of agents in all areas for customers needing the services,” the company said.
Nkosinathi Ncube, the commercial director for Telecel Zimbabwe, said the company’s strategy to deploy “franchise shops and kiosks is on course” after the company “more than doubled the number of kiosks to a total of 200 kiosks”.
The telecom kiosks and outlets are now a common feature in Zimbabwean cities and towns and have eased off hurdles associated with distribution of airtime top up cards to vendors.
“These kiosks are empowering local business people by making them part of our business ecosystem. Entrepreneurship has become even more important than ever before because our current economic environment is characterised by a shrinking formal job market. These kiosks will help create jobs and provide income streams which are needed to improve people’s lives.
Telecel views these kiosks as income and job creation opportunities,” said Ncube.

Source: IT Web Africa

Zimbabwe: Vimpelcom considering arbitration over Zim licence

Russian telecoms group Vimpelcom Ltd is preparing to launch a legal battle against the government of Zimbabwe over the cancellation of the operating licence of its 60% subsidiary in the country, Telecel. According to a report from DailyNews, Vimpelcom is looking to file an international arbitration against the government in October.
The Russian group is unhappy that authorities revoked Telecel’s concession in April this year after disagreements over licence fee payments and the company’s foreign ownership. Vimpelcom says the licence cancellation also contravened bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements (BIPPAs). Telecel went to court to get its licence returned temporarily pending an appeal, and it has continued to offer services.
Vimpelcom’s chief group business development and portfolio officer Anton Kudryashov said: ‘We don’t feel welcome in Zimbabwe and it’s not good. We want to feel appreciated for what we are doing and we would like to see our licence fully restored.’ He did go on to add, however, that the situation is improving and there is now an ongoing dialogue between the parties: ‘We have seen a lot of support in the past few months and based on that we want to invest in Zimbabwe. Our ambition is to grow our market share and manage the business in a most cost effective way.’

Source: TeleGeography

Zimbabwe: TelOne has requested a loan of $ 98 million from China to modernize its network

The operator TelOne Zimbabwe telecommunications is optimistic about the agreement for a loan of $ 98 million it requested to China. The money, according Chipo Mutasa, President Director General of the company, subject to a long process, should arrive in the next 6-12 months. Documents related to this loan, source of the delay in treatment, have now indeed been deposited.

In an interview with the Financial Gazette, Chipo Mutasa said that the sum borrowed by TelOne will be used for modernization of equipment and opérateru Telecom’s network to give it the means to meet the market competition qu’entretiennent Econet Wireless and Telecel. “After these 98 million dollars, we will need to raise more funds gradually each year to meet the needs of modernization and provide new competitive products on the market,” said Chipo Mutasa.

Through these preparations for improving its network and the quality of its service, TelOne is upgrades for tough battle ahead in the Zimbabwean telecoms market. A tough battle that will be triggered once advocated infrastructure sharing; and the condition of which is being developed by the telecom regulator; will be effective.

Source: EcoFin

Zimbabwe: Econet Mulls Multi-Billion Listing of Liquid Telecom

ECONET Group founder Strive Masiyiwa says he is considering a separate listing next year for subsidiary Liquid Telecom which currently is probably the largest operator of fibre and business satellite services on the African continent.

Masiyiwa, who is the Econet Group Executive Chairman said the company had decided to go for a listing of Liquid after spurning several multi-billion dollar offers for its subsidiary.

“We have received several unsolicited offers for Liquid, but we want it to remain an independent access provider for Internet in Africa,” he said.

“We are going to raise more capital strengthen its market leadership in this vital space.”

He revealed that the Econet Group had already appointed advisors for the potential listing of Liquid at one of the major European exchanges.

“We are looking at one of the European exchanges and we will finalise that early in the new year.”

Liquid Telecom has been growing rapidly over the last few years, fuelled by the demand for infrastructure to support broadband internet on the African continent.

The company, which has so far built a fibre optic network that spans 15 African countries from South Africa all the way to the border of South Sudan in East Africa, now wants to move into West Africa.

Said Masiyiwa: “Although Liquid has a presence in satellite and payment systems in West Africa, the terrestrial fibre side is missing, and we want to correct that, as our customers must have a seamless service from East to West, North to South.

“It has always been our core mission. We currently occupy the unique position of being the only company with a network that spans many different countries, as an independent access provider.”

Liquid Telecom has managed to position itself as an open access fibre and satellite infrastructure provider used by almost all the major mobile network providers in Africa.

Its customers include Airtel Africa, MTN, Orange, Tigo, and Vodafone, as well as its own sister company Econet Wireless.

Last week the company signed an agreement with Bharti Airtel to use its existing network as well as build additional infrastructure.

Masiyiwa said the current demand for its fibre network means the company will build an additional 20,000 km in just the next three years.

The continent’s leading banks, retail groups and mining groups are also increasingly using Liquid to link up their own pan-African business operations.

More recently, Liquid has turned its attention to building what it calls a ‘Content Delivery Network’ (Liquid CDN) for the growing number of companies providing video entertainment services including streaming, that require high capacity bandwidth.

“The level of system reliability required to offer service to the likes of Netflix is very high, and we are the only ones in a position to do that end-to-end across Africa.

“It will however, require much more investment, that is why we are now looking at a return to the capital markets,” Masiyiwa said.

Masiyiwa said he favours the listing of subsidiary companies rather than that of his privately held Econet Group. He explained that his group’s telecoms operations have three main subsidiaries, all of which are not listed.

Econet Wireless is the best known part of the Group, which focuses on telecommunication services, such as mobile network services. It has operations and investments in ten countries: South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Burundi, Nigeria, Nigeria, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, and New Zealand.

Liquid Telecom focuses on satellite and fibre optic infrastructure for primarily corporate customers, including other telecoms providers. Liquid Telecom has operations in 15 countries directly.

Another Econet Group company known as Cassava Connect focuses on the group’s growing interest in mobile financial services. It is also a B2B businesses supporting mobile network operators developing things like mobile banking, and insurance services.

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which is part of Econet Wireless, is the only listed subsidiary in the group, which often creates the impression that it is the holding company of the group.

“Econet Wireless Zimbabwe was our first business which was started nearly 20 years ago, but it is confined to the Zimbabwe market.

“It is not the holding company for all our businesses,” Masiyiwa explained.

Source: New Zimbabwe.com

Zimbabwe: Africa online, iWay Africa merge with Zim company

African information technology company, Gondwana International Networks (GIN), is awaiting approval by the competition and tariff commission in Zimbabwe on a merger deal with an internet service provider in the country.
GIN owns iWay Africa and Africa Online and is to merge these two companies’ operations in Zimbabwe with Dandemutande, a Zimbabwean internet service provider.
Dandemutande is owned by Mauritius-based and Zimbabwe focused investment company, Masawara.
Masawara said Wednesday that it had obtained regulatory approvals for the merger of the operations of Dandemutande – which it controls through Telerix Communications, a telecom investment company in which it has a significant interest and those of iWay Africa and Africa Online in Zimbabwe.

“Regulatory approvals were obtained for the merger of the operations of Dandemutande,(a wholly owned subsidiary of Telerix Communications (Private) Limited), iWay Africa and Africa Online,” Masawara said.
Dandemutande is a wholesale and retail internet service provider in Zimbabwe and its name means ‘spider web’ in the Zimbabwean Shona vernacular.
The ISP holds an Internet Access Provider (“IAP”) Class A telecommunications licence awarded by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).

Source: IT Web Africa

Zimbabwe: Potraz Turns Screws On Telecom Firms

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe has completed stringent draft rules setting service and customer care standards for the telecommunications industry. The rules also compel operators to ensure minimum call completion rate of 80 percent.

The new legislation will compel companies in the telecommunications sector to observe minimum service quality and customer care standards in provision of services such as voice, internet and data connectivity, short message and multimedia message services.

POTRAZ made the proposals in a Draft Quality of Service Regulations 2015, set to become law once finalised to penalise any service providers with levels below acceptable standards, provided the poor quality is not caused by factors beyond the operator’s control.

The rules will address complaints around claims that network operators were short-changing consumers through poor service delivery, which frequently manifest in cross lines, dropped calls, slow internet connectivity, high service cost and unavailability of network.

As such, mobile network service providers will be obligated to ensure 99,99 percent service availability, service activation period of under 5 seconds, down time of below 1 hour, interconnection gateway route down and repair time of less than an hour, as the regulator of telecommunication services sets the bar higher.

The rules will require service providers to ensure network connectivity success rate of equal or above 95 percent, call set up success rate to a valid number properly dialled to be above 95 percent at any given time.

Call completion rate, the percentage of calls that are successfully setup, maintained and terminated normally by the calling or called party should be equal or exceed 80 percent while the rate of voice calls dropped calls should be restricted within the 2 percent band.

A dropped call is one that is prematurely terminated before being released normally by either the caller or the called party before the exchange of released message.

Calls failed due to unavailability of network traffic channels due to many call attempts, traffic channel congestion or call congestion should not exceed 2 percent while call hand over success rate rank over 90 percent.

The draft rules state that the call set up time, period starting when the address information required to set up a call is received by the network and finishing when the busy tone, ringing tone or answer signal is received by the calling party, should be less than 10 seconds.

A 99,98 percent success rate should be achieved for short message service (SMS) sent and received in 2 minutes while the rate of failure is allowed at 0,02 percent.

The end to end delivery period, the time from sending an SMS to the time the SMS is received by the recipient would have to be contained within 120 seconds while a delivery success rate of 99 percent should be achieved for all multimedia messages, the draft says.

The regulations will require data service availability, the ratio of successful logging and maintained network connectivity to total attempts, to stay above 98 percent.

ON their part, fixed telecoms operators will be compelled to ensure call completion rate of 98 percent, call set up time of less than 3 seconds and almost complete network availability of 99,999 percent.

Service activation, the duration from the instant a valid service order (application) is received by a licensee to the time a working service is made available to the user would have to be completed in seven days while all orders should also be processed within a week.

Eighty percent of faults to fixed telecommunication services will have to be cleared within a period of 24 hours after being reported, 90 percent of them in 48 hours of reporting and all faults would have to be addressed in 72 hours.

Fixed data and internet service providers will be compelled to maintain 99,999 percent network availability; a state to perform a required function at a given instant of time or at any instant of time within a given interval.

Down link throughput speed, the speed with which data can be transmitted from a remote device to a local device, should equal or exceed 95 percent of the speed agreed with the user, as per user service level agreement.

In terms of consumer care, failed attempts to load recharge payment should be less than 1 hour and faults that take over 1 hour will have to be reported to POTRAZ in 24 hours while attempts by customers to check or enquire their airtime balances should also not take more than 1 hour, according to the draft rules.

Operators will be obliged to ensure that consumer complaints per 100 subscribers at all times are less than 5 percent while satisfaction index should be above 98 percent.

The percentage of incorrect billing and incorrect credit balance would be required to stay below 5 percent, failure to access credit balance below 1 percent, recharge card failure under 5 percent and recharge card incorrect credit should be kept less than 0,01 percent.

Source: The Herald

Zimbabwe: Africa online, iWay Africa merge with Zim company

African information technology company, Gondwana International Networks (GIN), is awaiting approval by the competition and tariff commission in Zimbabwe on a merger deal with an internet service provider in the country.
GIN owns iWay Africa and Africa Online and is to merge these two companies’ operations in Zimbabwe with Dandemutande, a Zimbabwean internet service provider.
Dandemutande is owned by Mauritius-based and Zimbabwe focused investment company, Masawara.
Masawara said Wednesday that it had obtained regulatory approvals for the merger of the operations of Dandemutande – which it controls through Telerix Communications, a telecom investment company in which it has a significant interest and those of iWay Africa and Africa Online in Zimbabwe.

“Regulatory approvals were obtained for the merger of the operations of Dandemutande,(a wholly owned subsidiary of Telerix Communications (Private) Limited), iWay Africa and Africa Online,” Masawara said.
Dandemutande is a wholesale and retail internet service provider in Zimbabwe and its name means ‘spider web’ in the Zimbabwean Shona vernacular.
The ISP holds an Internet Access Provider (“IAP”) Class A telecommunications licence awarded by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).

Source: IT Web Africa

Zimbabwe: ZOL begins fibre expansion

Zimbabwean internet service provider ZOL, which is a subsidiary of Econet-owned Liquid Telecoms, has unveiled plans to roll out fibre networks in a number of cities, including Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare. ZOL says it is looking to launch a range of new voice and data plans over its fibre infrastructure, the Zimbabwe Independent reports. Earlier this year Liquid Telecoms secured a USD150 million loan from Standard Chartered Bank to fund its fibre expansion plans. Econet and its ZOL unit are the main competitors to state-owned TelOne in Zimbabwe’s broadband sector, with ZOL having already built out fibre networks in Harare and Victoria Falls.

Source: TeleGeography

Zimbabwe TelOne settles interconnect debts with Econet, Telecel

Zimbabwean fixed line operator TelOne has handed over outstanding interconnect fees to two of the country’s mobile network operators. The state-owned provider has paid USD24 million to Econet Wireless and USD5 million to Telecel. According to a report from TechZim, Chipo Mtasa, the CEO of TelOne, says the repayments are part of a ‘tripartite offset arrangement’ between the government, TelOne and Econet, meaning that rather than handing over cash, the government is simply wiping out fees due to be paid by Econet, such as its contribution to the Universal Service Fund. Several years ago Econet agreed to offset a USD85 million interconnect debt owed by state-backed mobile operator NetOne against its own USD137.5 million licence renewal fee.

Source: TeleGeography

Zimbabwe: Zim still in favour of SMS

Mobile subscribers in Zimbabwe may be taking up instant messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook with great enthusiasm, but telcos in the country are still securing significant revenues from the SMS platform and continue to run promotions to encourage continued usage of the traditional text message platform
Often described as disruptive to the telecoms industry, instant messaging and social networking applications have slowly taken over the non-voice category – with Facebook announcing Thursday that as many as 7 million people in South Africa access the social networking site everyday.
In Zimbabwe, the text messaging platforming has not experienced the ‘quick death’ many have predicted. A telecommunications official told ITWeb Africa on Friday that mobile companies are pushing for maximum utilisation of their network platforms.
“The text message is being utilised because not everyone has a smartphone. Corporates and other organisations are also significant users,” said the official.

Telecel Zimbabwe on Friday announced an SMS promotion for its subscribers. Other private players like Econet and NetOne also offer discounts on SMS bundles where users can send up to as many as 100 SMSes for a $1 topped up.
“Telecel has a history of offering value through huge discounts and bonuses. We have decided to continue that tradition of sharing value with our customers,” said Telecel Zimbabwe chief commercial officer, Nkosinathi Ncube.
Zimbabwe’s telecommunications operators, forced to reduce voice tariffs to about 15 cents per minute earlier this year, have engaged in price wars.
Tariff reductions have been put in place in light of declining revenues. The state telecoms regulator, the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) said last week that cheaper internet based communication applications were a major threat for telcos than the enforced tariff reductions.

Source: IT Web Africa

Zimbabwe’s TelOne to introduce pre-paid billing

Zimbabwe’s fixed phone operator, TelOne is seeking to introduce pre-paid billing for its voice services as a measure aimed at mopping up revenues.
TelOne also has internet services for both home use and for corporates. It has recently rolled out a fibre to the home and Wi-Fi hotspots in the major urban areas and towns.
The company has been hobbled by customer debts of over $160 million, according to TelOne managing director, Chipo Mutasa. The debtors’ book comprises money owed by government parastatals, ministries, households and private sector players.
“The other issue on our balance sheet that we are seized with is the issue of our debtors. We have a huge debtor’s book, in excess of $160 million,” said Mutasa.
In a bid to counter declining revenues as a result of non-payment of bills, Mutasa said her company will now introduce pre-paid billing to guarantee maximum revenue collections.
She stressed that introduction of pre-paid billing for fixed voice telephony services could also result in lower revenues.
“Ultimately what we want to do is to put in a pre-paid billing platform. We might face some declining revenues, but we are saying better off revenue that is collected than to have uncollected revenue in our books.”
TelOne has embarked on a convergence exercise aimed at integrating its fixed voice telephony services and other internet based services such as internet protocol.
Mutasa said the company should capitalise on its investments into the ICT sector to speedily consolidate services and offer converged services beyond the traditional telecommunications service portfolio.

Source: IT Web Africa