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Politics and technology: the goings on at Telecel

Telecel ZimbabweNormally we like to keep clear of non-technology issues. It allows us to focus and write about the things we know best. People at Telecel (or just people with interests in Telecel) however keep spending generous amounts of time generating news on the other side of the line. And it clearly affects the technology side of things at Telecel.

Take yesterday’s “Telecel in tender scandal” article in Zimbabwe’s Sunday Mail paper for example. There are allegations of unprocedural tendering, flouting of indigenization regulations, an issue of under-qualified expats and deportations. There’s even some mention of the dreaded racism at play.

From a technology and business perspective this is worrying. A healthy Telecel is in everyone’s interest. Everyone from consumers, business, other mobile operators, the government, to the general telecoms ecosystem. We all need a healthy Telecel.

As the second largest mobile operator in Zimbabwe, Telecel has long been considered by consumers & business a practical alternative to Econet (the largest). It hasn’t fared badly as an alternative. Telecel even has a mobile banking service that Econet currently doesn’t offer. The only service visibly lacking on the Telecel network is mobile broadband, but Telecel has promised to deliver the service in this quarter. It will come with Blackberry services, the first in Zimbabwe.

Econet needs a healthy Telecel too. A troubled Telecel leaves subscribers with little choice, and business environments resulting in fewer choices attract competition and tariff commissions. The attention of anti-monopoly commissions is the kind of attention no company wants.

Back to Telecel;  we received some information from a friend yesterday. The summary of last week’s events according to him is that a British expatriate fired a Sales Rep that he was convinced was stealing various things from the network. The Sales Rep then reported the expat to Immigration and the expat was locked up on Friday. He spent the weekend in custody with nobody allowed to see him.

Now we hear this British expat is one of the architects working on the rollout of Telecel’s mobile broadband and bringing Blackberry services to the network. Apparently he is (or was, depending on what happens today) working on an interesting cheaper Internet solution through the use of some abandoned satellite bandwidth that was in use by GMTV in the UK before it closed.

The British expat it’s said “is so upset that if released that he will most likely return to England.”

We cannot say of the accuracy of our source on the situation on the ground, but take the Zimpapers article and this information and you have an unpretty internal situation at Telecel. Embroiled in allegations of racism, reps with sticky fingers, under-qualified expats, unprocedural tenders, disgruntled local employees and indigenization squabbles, Telecel’s technology suffers. The business suffers. The consumers are left to the mercy of a near monopoly.

Despite the fact that a healthy Telecel is a win-win for stakeholders, somehow the stakeholders just keep feeding the flames.


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8 thoughts on “Politics and technology: the goings on at Telecel

  1. there is litte if any benefit to be gained by a troubled telecel its an attempt by all those involved to defrechise the zimbabwean public of the benefit gained from competition. some of the benefits are self checking mechanisms as competition is rightfuly shifted to true competances not temporary, unsustainble factors. eg ability to roll out 3g, or m banking!

  2. For an employee to approach immigration authorities seems he/she had no other option for recourse to address what appears to be serious grievances. And subcontracting work to foreign companies, that can otherwise be perfectly done here, thus flighting US$ out of the country sounds like Telecel has some very cynical people in its top management ranks. This is the sort of thing that gives legitimacy to the likes of Kasukuwere and his indigenisation troops to your doorstep.
    I am intrigued by one thing! So Telecel recruits all these expats who it appears don’t have the vision to put up a professional website???

  3. “…..working on an interesting cheaper Internet solution some abandoned satellite bandwidth that was in use by GMTV in the UK before it closed..”

    l find this very hard to digest or understand. How can an abandoned satellite bandwidth in UK makes cheap internet access in Zimbabwe. My believe is the fastest internet at the moment is through Fibre and every business which wants growth is moving away from limited satellite links which is why every ISP in Zimbabwe is digging now!

    On a very slightly different note, l think this issue of Blackberry services is a bit worrying and a danger to our National Security. A British expat working on critical ISP backbone network which will be encrypted and routed via UK, l smell UK’s GCHQ and MI6 snooping on key louse Zimbabwean MPs and business people who does not have a clue of whats going on in Cyberland! Our security services must have a direct input on this.

  4. indegenisation with clueless people. a ini zvangu ini. Is it good corporate……someone fired for suspicion (thought it need be proven) and also for Immigration to dabble in business affairs………….the Saintlif scenario again. neither of this seems right.

  5. Why are people so paranoid, wake up people as things stand the zim budget is possibly smaller than the budget for cape town.. Our significance is with natural resources.please stop with the paranoia.

    As for telecel please can these folks put their house in order.

  6. I am very concerned with the awarding of tenders to South African companies at the expense of Zimbos. Cases in point is the Telecel issue, the Eazipark for the parking project in Harare they even put up their South African flag. Surely this is corruption at its best. The BIG guys are the ones so corrupt and yet they preach the indigenisation song forever… Two days ago COPAC talked about a South African company having to come and fix their server for the constitutional process what a joke!!! PLIZ NDAPOTA TECHZIM report on such issues!!!!

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