In a radio interview we posted earlier, the Minister of ICT, Supa Mandiwanzira revealed what could be a controversial arrangement between local mobile operator Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and its sister company Liquid Telecom Group. In his words:
Out of the companies that are bringing bandwidth in this country, the company that brings bandwidth at the most expensive price is Liquid. TelOne brings in bandwidth, Powertel brings in bandwidth, Liquid brings in bandwidth. The prices between Powertel and any other operator, they bring in bandwidth in this country (at around), the maximum is US$120 per 1 Mega Bit per second. Liquid brings in Bandwidth at more than US $220 per 1 Mega Bit per second. And where do they get that bandwidth from? From Liquid Mauritius.
Liquid Telecom Mauritius is the holding company for Liquid Telecom Group. So, according to what the Minister has pointed out, Econet Wireless, which acquires its bandwidth from Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe, is essentially paying a significant premium on bandwidth to a sister company and yet other operators are able to bring bandwidth at half almost the price from cheaper alternative suppliers.
This could have quite a number of implications and we will be updating the blog once we hear back from the group.
Update: An earlier version of this article had our comments and questions about implications of Econet paying more to Liquid Telecom for bandwidth than they could get from other companies. We have been however told that facts on the ground would answer our questions and, more importantly, significantly show a very different picture of the situation. We will post an update with these facts on the ground once we receive them as well as our comment on them.