The government of Zimbabwe is expecting to have completed the part-privatisation of fixed line incumbent TelOne and wireless sister company NetOne by the end of this year. A report from The Independent says authorities in Harare plan to offer the two firms as a package and will retain a 26% interest in the combined operation. Foreign telco groups such as MTN and Telkom of South Africa and Unitel of Angola have been linked as potential buyers, though the government has so far not given any firm details, saying only that preparations for a sale are ‘making progress’.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube also told the paper that the government is looking to pay USD20 million to acquire the 40% interest in third wireless operator Telecel that it does not already own, and this too will be offered for sale, with the state again retaining a 26% stake.
Zimbabwe’s mobile market suffered declines in the first quarter of 2019 as the country’s economic woes hit consumer spending. The active cellular subscriber total dropped from 12.91 million at the end of 2018 to 12.13 million three months later according to figures released by the industry regulator POTRAZ. Privately owned Econet controlled almost 70% of the market at end-March, with NetOne taking around 21% and Telecel having 9%.