Telecel’s struggles are well documented at this point. Zimbabwe’s smallest mobile network by subscriber count has been feeling the effects of an economy that is slowing down quicker than its competitors.
Couple this with the fact that the leadership (or lack thereof) has been questionable – with a focus on power struggles and not on turning the fortunes of the company around, it’s not too surprising that the company has been on a downward spiral.
In the 4th quarter of 2019, Telecel lost 13.2% subscribers – a whopping 139 648 users. This is the first time Telecel has had lower than a million subscribers since 2014 and a far cry from their peak of 2.23 million subscribers achieved in Q3 of 2014.
A tale of poor network connectivity, lack of infrastructure and misplaced priorities…
Of late, Telecel has become more famous because of the unreliability of its network more than anything else.
This is not surprising when you consider that the struggling mobile network only has 13% of 2G base stations and 15% of 3G base stations. Telecel has a shockingly low 1.6% of 4G base stations – a number that comes to either 16 or 17.
Last year in July we reported that “Telecel had around 16 base stations“. The fact that this hasn’t changed is testament to how hard it is for mobile network operators to invest in infrastructure right now.
The infrastructure is bought using foreign currency and right now telecoms players simply don’t have the forex. These companies are having a difficult maintaining the networks as is and also have to buy fuel for generators because of the crippling power shortages.
The best way to get out of a mess is not to get into one
Turning the ship around will prove extremely difficult and on top of everything else we mentioned above, Telecel now has to contend with the effects that Coronavirus will have on their operations and on the broader economy.
Unfortunately for Telecel subscribers, the company’s leadership didn’t make the right efforts to protect their long-term future during the US$ era where local MNOs had buying power to invest in infrastructure and providing a world-class service.