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The latest on Telecel’s prospective owners: Who is Native Telecoms?

   

Who owns Telecel right now? What is the government’s stake in the mobile network operator? Will the disposal of part of its ownership mean the cancellation of the telecoms firm’s licence?

Those are just some of the questions that are set to be answered in the next 3 weeks. Even though there hasn’t been an official statement from Telecel Zimbabwe and Vimpelcom the biggest relief for subscribers for now is that the network operator won’t be closing shop.

The different shareholders with stakes in Telecel are set to iron out details of the ownership starting with a meeting that is scheduled for this week. This will rope in current owners (Empowerment Corporation, Vimpelcom) and potential investors (Brainworks).

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New player in the mix?

While there are a lot of people eyeing Telecel, there’s even more noise around who the legitimate owner of the telecoms firm is. One of the entities which have laid claim to Telecel is Native Telecoms. This is an investment entity owned by local businessman, Phillip Chiyangwa.

When we spoke to Chiyangwa, he informed us that Native Telecoms was set up as an investment vehicle focused on telecoms in Zimbabwe.  It represented his 9% investment in Empowerment Corporation (EC), which is the consortium at the centre of the ownership dispute. EC in turn owns 40% in Telecel Zimbabwe.

Native Telecoms doesn’t have any other investments in telecoms, but Chiyangwa did emphasise his interest in further investment in local telecoms and technology.

Interestingly, Phillip Chiyangwa took centre stage in the Telecel issue ten days ago when it was reported that he had written to Minister of ICT Supa Mandiwanzira and Minister of Indigenisation Chris Mushowe urging the state to intervene in the Telecel sale. Chiyangwa offered to buy out local and foreign shareholders in Telecel.

It remains to be seen what sort of stake Native Telecoms manages to secure in the final sale of Telecel. What is certain though is that a change in ownership will have a huge impact on future plans for investment and network expansion for Telecel as it tries to remain competitive in an aggressive market.

Image credit: Pindula


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