The government of Zimbabwe confirmed this week that South African cellco MTN and fixed line operator Telkom South Africa are persisting with advances to buy stakes in two Zimbabwean state-run companies, mobile operator NetOne and incumbent PTO TelOne, respectively. As reported by local newspaper The Herald, the South African firms are amongst several foreign companies that have expressed interest in buying stakes in the two operators. A senior state official was quoted as confirming that MTN and Telkom had made formal bids for the cash-strapped pair, adding that the government was in the process of considering the bids and that the respective investment proposals would soon be presented to Cabinet. According to the unnamed official: ‘Several firms have expressed interest in [NetOne and TelOne] and we are in the process of conducting due diligence on these bids. They will soon be presented to Cabinet before we choose the winner.’
An injection of foreign capital into the underfunded networks of TelOne and NetOne would further the aims of the Zimbabwean government in the communications sector. At the beginning of this week the Ministry of Information Communication Technology unveiled its new National Information Communication strategic plan that will run from 2010 to 2014. ICT minister Nelson Chamisa said the strategic plan would address issues of infrastructure development and management, assist in the establishment of a governance regime, ICT utilisation, e-business and e-government, cyber security, ICT investment and partnerships. In addition, the plan would also focus on promoting research and development in ICT and also mobilisation of resources to achieve the ministry’s mandate of transforming the sector. ‘This strategic plan… promotes the emergence and convergence of information and communication technologies… to transform Zimbabwe into a knowledge society, and pulls the entire nation around a single vision,’ said Mr Chamisa on Monday. The Ministry has already finalised its ICT Bill and is awaiting approval from Cabinet before the legislation goes to Parliament for further scrutiny; Chamisa announced that efforts were being made to pass the bill to the legislature ‘soon’.