Zimbabwean mobile operator Telecel has unveiled more details of its latest network expansion project. The firm, which secured USD70 million in funding from parent group Orascom/Vimpelcom in Q4 2011 for its ongoing network upgrade, plans to deploy a total of 200 new base stations across the country this year to bring its total to 575, and increase its population coverage to 85% by end-2012, with a target of ‘close to 90%’ by end-2013. Telecel is the second largest cellular operator in Zimbabwe, with just over two million subscribers and a 19% market share at the end of June 2012 according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. New Telecel CEO Francis Mawindi said the firm is hoping to grow its customer base to 2.7 million by the end of this year, but it is still well behind market leader Econet Wireless, which recently revealed that it had passed the seven million subscriber milestone.
In a presentation to local press, Mawindi announced that at the end of August 2012, Telecel had a total of 2.2 million active subscribers. Regarding its mobile internet/data strategy, the CEO noted that in April this year, for the first time, data (internet) revenue exceeded SMS messaging revenue and the trend has continued; a data promotion, which ended on 31 August 2012, was intended to encourage greater use of mobile phones to access the internet by offering data bundles at rock bottom prices. Although that promotion has ended, Telecel says it continues to offer bundle prices which are ‘affordable and competitive.’ In further progress reports, the executive said that Telecel currently has twelve retail outlets countrywide; by the end of the year it expects to have 18. Finally, Telecel has commissioned a new intelligent network (IN) management system that will enable the company to provide ‘advanced’ value-added services, Mawindi said, adding that unlike the old, the new platform is ‘capable of taking on countless new applications that can enhance subscriber services.’
On its ongoing shareholding controversy, Mawindi said Telecel shareholders are addressing the need to comply with indigenisation laws ‘right now’ and that Telecel will be releasing information once the issue has been resolved.
Elsewhere, the third-placed player in the market, state-owned NetOne, has announced the signing of a roaming agreement with MTN of South Africa.