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BizDay Zimbabwe

Econet’s Zimbabwe investments surpass $1 billion

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MEMORY MATARANYIKA
Harare – ZSE listed telecommunications group, Econet Wireless announced on Friday that its investments in the Zimbabwean economy
have reached $1.2 billion.

Econet is the country’s biggest telecoms company and competes against Telecel Zimbabwe as well as state owned NetOne. However, growing competition in the telecoms industry has forced Econet Wireless to shift its strategy to value adding services such as EcoCash, EcoFarmer and its Steward Bank for complimentary revenue streams.

Douglas Mboweni, the chief executive officer of Econet Wireless said on Friday that the massive investments Econet had sunk into the
Zimbabwean economy over the last 15 years had boosted employment creation by 50 000 jobs and helped sustain nearly 20 000 small companies.

An additional 25 000 young people are involved in the airtime distribution business, Mboweni said.

“For a cellphone to work, it is not because of SIM cards, or steel towers, but a massive investment in equipment, which people cannot
see. This year alone we will spend $180 million on capital investments for the business,” said Mboweni.

Econet has made cumulative government tax and fee payments of around $815 million over the past 15 years it has been operational in Zimbabwe. This includes the $137.5 million paid in full to the government for the renewal of the company’s telecommunications
operating licence.

Shareholders and investors in the company had received more than $190.5 million in dividends and share buy backs. The company’s stock on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) is one of the most attractive counters for foreign investors

“More shares are traded in Econet than any other company and we are the main vehicle by which foreign investors are still investing in the country, by way of the stock exchange,” Mboweni said.

Econet’s investments had helped Zimbabwe become “second only in the region when it comes to the number of people who have access to telecommunications”.

The GSMA sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Observatory Report issued in November 2012 says in Zimbabwe, mobile platforms account for over half of all web traffic at 58.1% compared to a 10% global average.

“The majority of Internet access in Zimbabwe is due to investment by Econet. Zimbabwe is now second only to Kenya in terms of the percentage of its population that uses mobile banking. All this is provided by Econet. We are not going to stop trying to serve our community, despite what has at times been a very difficult environment because of factors like sanctions,” said Mboweni.

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