Zimbabwean mobile operator Telecel is reportedly struggling to keep up with the repayments on its USD137.5 million licence renewal fee, which it is paying in instalments until December 2020. A report from TechnoMag says that it owes USD25 million after missing the repayments which were due at end-2017 and in June 2018. The report suggests that the Zimbabwe government, which owns 60% of Telecel, could use the situation to dilute the 40% interest held by co-owner Empowerment Corporation. The government is known to be seeking full control of Telecel so that it can then be sold off to a new investor.
Licence renewal fees for Zimbabwe’s three cellcos were due in 2013. Privately-owned Econet Wireless is thought to have paid the USD137.5 million in full, while both state-backed operators, Telecel and NetOne, were offered instalment plans. Telecel now controls less than 10% of the overall mobile market in subscriber terms, with its customer base falling steadily over the past few years.