Econet pursues payphone strategy to help create employment

12 Jul 2006

Zimbabwe’s leading mobile operator Econet Wireless has decided to install 10,000 new GSM payphones under its YourFone brand by the end of this year as part of a strategy to stimulate employment in the country’s struggling economy. Econet spokesman Sure Kamhunga said that, in addition to thousands of jobs to be created by the new payphone lines, which each require an operator, the company estimated that over 500 further workers would be employed indirectly, particularly in downstream industries servicing the telecoms sector. Econet last week announced its second largest-ever expansion programme to add another 300,000 GSM lines by October using a USD20 million loan from Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank, and Kamhunga said it could have easily added another 50,000 residential cellular connections but opted instead to improve public telephony access to those unable to afford a handset, as a ‘contribution to the urgent task we all face to get our economy back on its feet.’ The YourFone community phone service already provides around 80% of the payphones in Zimbabwe, with a presence in all major population centres, enabling telephone access to an estimated 400,000 people monthly; Econet hopes to increase this figure significantly.