The Zimbabwe government’s National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has reportedly reached an agreement with Empowerment Corporation (E Corp) to acquire its 40% stake in the country’s third mobile operator, Telecel. Local newspaper The Herald reports an acquisition price of USD20 million for a deal which will fully nationalise the struggling cellco. E Corp is a consortium of local investors whose owners include James Makamba’s Kestrel Corporation, Leo Mugabe’s Integrated Engineering Group (IEG) and Jane Mutasa’s Indigenous Business Women Organisation.
The state investment fund NSSA has already helped the government take a 60% interest in Telecel, providing USD30 million of the USD40 million needed to buy out VimpelCom in a deal announced in November and completed last month. That transaction was carried out via ISP Zarnet, which is a unit of state-owned fixed line telco TelOne. Telecel has seen its customer base decline to below two million, while rival operators Econet and NetOne continue to post subscriber gains.