Econet accuses POTRAZ of destabilising the telecoms industry

Nigel Gambanga Avatar
Douglas Mboweni - Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO

Econet CEO, Douglas Mboweni

Local mobile operator, Econet Wireless, has released a statement concerning the job dismissals at the company, pointing out that Econet has only released 46 employees and not hundreds as has been claimed by some media outlets.

According to Douglas Mboweni, the Econet CEO, these dismissals were not part of a cost-cutting measure. For cost management, Econet had instead implemented 20% salary reductions, which had been determined to be more effective.

As part of this statement Mboweni also said,

We all need to try and protect jobs, but regulators like POTRAZ need to play their part by not unnecessarily destabilizing industries that are stable.

This comes off as a direct criticism of the telecoms industry regulator POTRAZ as the instigator of instability that the telecoms industry is experiencing.

POTRAZ instructed all telecoms operators to revise voice tariffs downwards, a situation which resulted in a drop in revenue for all operators. In its most recent annual financial results, Econet cited the tariff adjustment, as well as the taxes added on airtime sales and imported devices as reasons for depressed performance.

The shots fired at POTRAZ could have also been a reference to the debate around telecoms infrastructure Sharing which has been championed by the Minister of ICT Hon. Supa Mandiwanzira as well as the lax regulation around interconnection debts among the various operators which Econet also pointed out as a contributory factor to its lukewarm results.

Econet’s statement comes after another mobile operator, Telecel, confirmed its own series of job cuts and TelOne, a state-owned telecoms operator was reported to have opted to reduce salaries by 15% instead of effecting job cuts.

It’s hard to not view this statement from Econet as a response to TelOne, which seems to have distinguished itself as an operator that has managed to figure out an alternative to the unpopular employment contract termination option.


  1. Anonymous

    I fully support Econet in this case. PORTRAZ are hopeless. Here’s hoping they wise up and help the telecoms sector rather than allowing it to become another basket case.

    1. Heeeeei

      It is not Potraz but politics. Potraz do not have a board so whatever they do can be rightfully challenged. I do not support Econet and Supa though? This is subject of another debate among rational people?

  2. Heeeeei

    So we have the blind (Supa) leading the blind (the leadership) to go to nowhere. That is why the pastors are making a killing? I pity Gumbura, he went mad. Two should have been enough?

  3. Prof Murambwi

    Econet mbavha dzakafanana neZANU PF

    1. MDC t

      nhai nhai. vari kutijairira vose same same.

  4. macd chip

    Although l now consider Potraz as a political outfit for fund raising, Mboweni is totally out of order on this one.

    It is Potraz job to regulate and enforce discipline with the Telecoms industry. I for one still consider the calls in Zim very expensive.

    At one point l even want to do data roaming in Zim and my provider pointed out that ISPs in Zim where ureasonably expensive for them to offer such service.

    Eveyone knows that voice calls world over is a quick shrinking cash cow. For Mboweni to continue crying and try to swim against the wave is a self defeating battle.

    What Econet and Mboweni needs to do is change and innovate fast! Stop being cry babies.

    1. Allaz

      “Eveyone knows that voice calls world over is a quick shrinking cash cow. For Mboweni to continue crying and try to swim against the wave is a self defeating battle.
      What Econet and Mboweni needs to do is change and innovate fast! Stop being cry babies.”

      I think of all the three MNOs in Zimbabwe, Econet is probably the only one who has seen this. They’ve done more in the way of data than the other two – so I’m a bit surprised why you have pointed that particular area out. Sure they could do a lot more, but in this particular market they are miles ahead of those other two jokers.

      1. macd chip

        True, Econet seems to have sensed the changes in modern day voip, have done a little bit about it but you do not want Mboweni to be a scare monger.

        He should be articulating Econet achievements in voip implementations what future projections to grow econet’s share.

        I find it a bit disturbing that he still crying about lost war, unless this is a tactic to off step other MNOs.

        1. Allaz

          Yah exactly – those comments were just a cheap shot – he didn’t need to make them. Akungokonzera tension over something that passed a long time ago.

  5. Rangarirai

    I am behind Econet on this too!

    1. macd chip

      Scare mongering??

  6. strategist

    it is important for cde supa to note that business is a civilized form of warfare. Econet is leading. sharing infrasturucture with competitors for econet will not bring any benefits to them, it is likely to provide the Competitors the food on econets plate.

    I suspect potraz, cde supa, netone and econet are family cooking up a plan to rob hardworking econet. If these feel they want to share infrastructure i recomend that it be done on voluntary basis.
    Who is complaining

    1. strategist

      i suspect potraz, cde supa n netone

    2. Chris Mberi

      You might want to read a little more about the model of infrastructure sharing being proposed then come back to make a comment.

  7. Ushe

    why should they complain about the slashing of voice call tarrifs when they were rpping customers off, charging an arm and a leg just to make a voice call!

  8. John M

    One thing that people often forget when pointing out how expensive comms is in Zimbabwe is the environment. We have long power cuts meaning base stations are running on expensive fuel more than 30% of the time. There is also a very punitive tax regime championed by a clueless government. Then on top of that you have to pay for a very expensive license & have to conform to POTRAZ’S negative regulations. As if that’s not enough you now have a clueless minister forcing you to share your huge investments with lazy operators who don’t even pay interconnection fees. If this destruction by our authorities continue we won’t have an industry to speak of soon.

    1. Chris Mberi

      They are not being asked to share that infrastructure for free, get that right.

      1. macd chip

        Chris, you need to be brave to trust what gvt says on paper and actually goes on to do.

        Few weeks ago every paper was awash with stories of our gvt having been approached by Telecel and offered shares.
        Then an excited minister went public threatening anyone who doesnt want to share that gvt was goin to go it alone.

        Soon after Telecel came out claiming that they never want to sell and everything went quiet.

      2. John M

        Chris, you must be joking! The same guys who have not been paying you interconnection fees for ages are the ones you are being forced to share your infrastructure with. Your guess is as good as mine whether they are going to pay. Anyway if they have money why didn’t they just build their own infrastructure in the first place? Econet never complained or asked for sharing when NetOne had a bigger footprint in the rural areas. Instead they held tight until revenues improved & started investing in their own infrastructure. Now that they have become a leader we hear about infrastructure sharing. Our problem in Zim is we don’t encourage excellence. Rather we make every effort to pull those who are trying hard to excel down to our own mediocre levels. & we wonder why investors are not coming in. The other failing MNOs must just compete…period!

        1. Chris Mberi

          I’m looking at entrepreneurs having access to MNOs without the current hurdles. Think how hard it is to get a short code at the moment. Yes some may take advantage but continuing with the current monopolistic setup encourages zero growth.

          1. macd chip

            Who was handed monopoly is a silver platter?

    2. jabbatings

      Well said…

  9. Sagitarr

    Both Portraz & Govt rely on revenue from EW – same as the UN relies on USA subscriptions. Portraz is ineffective, the govt is clueless on providing direction. If EW charges market rentals for its infrastructure, how will the other MNOs recover those costs? Remember this govt thought that by owning NetOne/TelOne easy money would flow cheaply their way. This stupid model has failed in every industry this govt has touched. Finally, businesses can now succeed on solid scientific principles instead of fembera fembera – we wait with bated breath! I agree with Mboweni – govt is sabotaging a flourishing industry as usual but costs are way beyond the ordinary end-user.

  10. Rr

    On some level fbt is wrobg bt potraz like zi:ra isnt a friend of budiness cz they set laws that make bus pay.
    Bt b4 running to EWZ rescue remmemver these are the same people who were forved by gvt to provide quality services. I rember those dark daus when i got charged per minute and econet came out crying cz od tht. Then the whole reduce a message from being charged at 15c. Left to its own devices evonet and all service providers will gibe rubbish services and charge a dollar a minute.

  11. Evans

    The idea of infrastructure sharing is not a very bad idea. What might be bad is the timing. Had POTRAZ introduced this when all MNOs were starting it would have done a great job! Now its going to be complicated!

  12. Tsano

    Well, some of the point above are correct and some very wrong.
    1. Sharing infrastructure is a good move but if we all have invested, have latest technology and also trustworthy. If you can’t pay interconnection fees, how will I trust you to pay for infrastructure rentals?
    2. There is need to consider the industry based on the economy your country is in. If prices are to go down, then that has to be across board, that is all goods and services. You can’t lower the price of bread when you don’t lower for the inputs.
    3. Currently there are power shortages, almost all base stations are running on generators, which require fuel, which fuel is costly….imagine paying for $1.46 per litre of blend (not unleaded petrol), the generator paid duty, the generator itself is a huge investment, this among other related costs like need for transport to keep refueling, salaries for those who refuel etc.
    4. You can only invest in new technology if there is a guarantee of return.
    5. POTRAZ acted in bad faith, it made telecoms reduce prices, then it hit consumers with extra costs…….say charges on all mobile money transactions……com’on

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