It has emerged that Econet cleverly negotiated with the government to offset monies owed by TelOne and NetOne (in interconnection fees) against the new US $137.5 million mobile licenses fees. As a result, Econet only paid $50 million cash.
According to a report by a local financials news email service, the Financial Express, POTRAZ Acting Director General, Alfred Marisa said that Econet wireless like other mobile operators had negotiated with government on the payment of the US $137.5m license fee. Econet, he said, had therefore only paid $50m cash, with the rest offset against government debt to the mobile operator.
Telecel too made similar arrangements he said. From reports in the media about outstanding license fees to the government that Telecel still owes, it’s probably the case that what TelOne and NetOne owed Telecel in interconnection fees wasn’t enough to offset against the full amount.
Last week, Econet CEO, Douglas Mboweni, among other gripes they have with the ecosystem, complained that other mobile operators seem to get more favourable licensing conditions from the government as Econet is the only operator that has paid the full $137.5m license fee. Telecel, Mboweni said, had only partially paid their license, while NetOne’s license status is not known at all.