The government of Zimbabwe has pumped USD263 million into wholly state-owned mobile operator NetOne since the start of this year as the cellco looks to expand and upgrade its infrastructure. The funding has been provided to Zimbabwe via loans from the government of China, and part of the money has gone on the rollout of 4G LTE equipment. A report from local newspaper The Chronicle quotes NetOne acting chief executive officer Brian Mutandiro as saying: ‘We’ve had two very important injections facilitated by the Government from China. There was the first phase where USD45 million was invested and was followed up by the second phase where USD218 million was invested. This investment has taken us to a level where we can now give connectivity to 6.5 million people.’ He went on to add: ‘Now we’re going into the third phase where USD485 million is going to be invested in NetOne to make sure the whole country has connectivity.’
While NetOne made a loss of around USD3 million last year, the cellco expects to turn a profit this year. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, NetOne claimed almost one-third of Zimbabwe’s mobile market in subscriber terms at the end of March 2016 with around 4.3 million active users on its books.