Today, the Econet CEO, Douglas appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology on ICT. The appearance was for discussion on various issues ranging from tariffs, infrastructure sharing, future investment in telecoms and network rollout amoung other issues.
We (and now you) have been lucky enough to receive a detailed report in our mailbox by the people at FinX, of the goings on at the discussion, and we thought we would share it with you. There’s also some information that was presented by new Telecel CEO Francis Mawindi and Marketing Manager, Obert Mandimika.
Here is a summary of some issues that we found most interesting in the report. And here’s a link of the full FinX report.
- Econet is owed US $85 million in interconnection fees by the two state owned telecoms operators, TelOne (fixed) and NetOne (mobile). Econet is not amused as they are paying tax on this uncollected revenue.
- Zimbabwe’s internet penetration is now at 30%. We’re not sure where they are getting this number or what each provider is contributing to it, but we think it does roughly represent Zimbabwe’s internet penetration. We’ll try to get the solid figures in the coming days.
- Econet repeated the line it has to repeat every couple of weeks now; that the tariffs they (and other mobile operators) are charging are cost based, and competitive compared to those charged in the region, especially South Africa.
- According to the Econet CEO, the Universal Service Fund (USF), 2% of annual revenue that is levied on licensed operators by the telecoms regulator, POTRAZ is not as relevant as it used to be, and that there has not been any meaningful development of telecoms in underserved areas from the fund.
We’re glad the operators are starting to complain too. So far it’s just been the subscribers and journos doing the complaining. It’d be good for POTRAZ and the government to explain this. We’ll try to get them to, but keep no fingers crossed for a response.
- On Infrastructure sharing, NetOne’s strange stinginess was brought up. Again. Remember Telecel complained about this very thing last year in February. So anyway, NetOne was stingy back in the day when their network was the largest. Fast forward to today, the tables have turned and Econet commands that enviable position at the top of the food chain, and NetOne is unashamedly bawling their eyes that Econet won’t share.
- On the Telecel side of things, the new CEO disclosed that about 25% of their networking right is 3G enable, and the rest 2G. The company plans to increase 3G coverage to 32% by the end of the year.
- Power outages continue to drive and keep the cost of delivering telecoms services in Zimbabwe up.