Zain’s Tanzanian mobile venture expects full-year turnover to be flat for 2009 on the back of a cut in consumer spending caused by the wider economic slowdown, although it also reports it hopes to continue to see strong gains in terms of subscribers for the rest of the year. The unit’s managing director Khaled Muhtadi told Reuters he expected customer numbers to keep growing but anticipates ‘flat revenue growth’ in 2009. ‘We see 5.2 million customers by the end of this year, up from 4.8 million currently, and aim to reach six million at the end of next year,’ Muhtadi said in an interview. ‘Revenue … was USD328 million for 2008. We don’t expect much growth in 2009. The revenue has been rather flat and a lot slower than expected because of the world economic situation,’ he added.
Muhtadi went on to say his company has invested USD500 million in its Tanzanian network infrastructure over the past five years. And as part of a new consortium with rival operators Simbanet, Tigo and Zantel, he said Zain was ready to pump a further USD100 million to lay a joint fibre infrastructure throughout the country. ‘We’re saying either allow us to put down that backbone or allow us to lease it from the government, but up to now there’s no visibility on this and we’re not being given the right to lay our own national backbone: this is the bottleneck we’re seeing,’ Muhtadi said.