The Minister of ICT and Cyber Security, Supa Mandiwanzira has said Telecel and NetOne do not need to merge as they are finally stabilizing.
NetOne and Telecel are apparently now getting back on their feet. This is a bit surprising because as recently as December 2017, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa called Telecel and NetOne ‘A let down’ to the Zim government. Supa Mandiwanzira’s statement implies that the Mobile Network Operators have been on a rapid rise since that incident. Supa did, however, make it clear that the two MNOs can do much better if more capital is invested.
The idea of merging Telecel and NetOne makes sense if you’re looking at the numbers only. According to Portraz Zimbabwe has 13.8 million active mobile subscriptions. Of those 13.8 million subscribers, 7.1 million belong to Econet and NetOne has 4.9 million, whilst Telecel is way behind with 1.8 million. Those rooting for the merger are of the thinking that the combined numbers of Telecel and NetOne would challenge Econet.
With a combined 6.7 million subscribers some believe the Government-owned operator would challenge Econet. Personally, I don’t think a merger would solve any problems since the problems with NetOne and Telecel are more to do with how they are run rather than the numbers.
Mandiwanzira also said merging the two would be difficult since the government owns only 60% of Telecel compared to 100% of NetOne. The remaining 40% of Telecel is owned by a consortium led by Gerald Mlothswa who is also a shareholder of Dr Dish. Mlotshwa also happens to be President Mnangagwa’s son-in-law.