TelOne, Zimbabwe’s incumbent fixed line network provider, has announced that accumulated debts of residential customers, amounting to USD80 million, have been cancelled. TechZim reports that each customer will be credited with a total of USD257.8, due to the ‘cash-flow challenges currently facing [TelOne’s] clients across the market’. According to the article, the dollarisation of the telecoms market in the beginning of 2009 could be blamed for the huge bills accumulated by some of TelOne’s subscribers. The change to a multi-currency regime led to numerous subscribers closing their accounts and leaving their debts unpaid. Moreover, a number of debt collection threats issued by the operator have largely been ignored so far.
According to TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in August 2013 TelOne launched a debt collection campaign aiming to recover USD50 million from unpaid service bills by the end of 2013. TelOne’s CEO Chipo Mtasa announced at the time that the debt collection strategy was crucial for the company to re-finance its operations, as many of its subscribers have not paid their bills since 2009. The company was understood to be in the process of verifying outstanding amounts and negotiating payment plans with the affected customers.