I’m sure you remember the trouble Econet users went through on Monday when the network was facing intermittent downtimes throughout the day. Econet later apologized and explained that “its instability on their key network systems” caused that whole episode of failing to make calls, send texts, make payments and other staff.
Well, the background of what’s really going with Econet was disclosed by POTRAZ’s Director-general Gift Machengete. Apparently, Econet is failing to service some of its debts to foreign firms which are supposed to service Econet’s infrastructure. According to Newsday report, here is what Mr. Machengete said:
I am not going to beat about the bush on these issues because it was Econet that was affected, so that is very correct that they must have had an overload on their systems and things like that. The fact that they are failing to pay, especially Ericsson. Concerning ZTE and Huawei, I think, they are negotiating with them. They really have serious problems with Ericsson….because Ericsson would want them (Econet) to pay… They are supposed to pay Ericsson and they have got a debt which they have failed to service and now Ericsson is growing cold feet in terms of coming to assist them in the network. They (Ericsson) now want some upfront payment or some big deposit to be made, but as you know our foreign currency situation is not good, so they have not been able to get that foreign currency. Not only on Econet are there issues. We have problems with TelOne on their debt and again we have been approaching the RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) who has been assisting in the best manner possible.
Suprise Suprise Suprise. You thought that Telone was the only service provider grappling with its debts. Even poster boy Econet is in the soup as well and on Monday we tasted the implications of its failure to pay its debts. Companies like Ericson are the experts of the maintenance and development of telecommunications infrastructure such that if they pull out on you, carnage might ensue.
Telecoms industry feeling the hit too
The bane of forex shortages is making it extremely hard for Mobile Network Operators (MNO) and other service providers to honor their obligations. If you couple that with the fact that since inflation started to gradually increase (a couple of years ago) in Zimbabwe, MNO’s haven’t yet been allowed to increase their tariffs. Therefore, you’d be forgiven to expect that Econet, other MNO’s and other service providers are failing to pay their critical debts.
Too Big to fail
With over 10 million subscribers and over 7 million Ecocash users that rely on its network, Econet can’t afford to experience network disruptions as it brings some portion of the country to a standstill. So I suppose its everyone’s hope that Econet and other service providers honor their debt obligations.