Press reports from Zimbabwe suggest that state-backed mobile operator Telecel is on the brink of collapse amid the country’s economic crisis. A report from Zim Morning Post says the company’s servers have been down since last month and network availability has been cut by 65%.
A source told the paper: ‘Telecel servers went down in December which has resulted in the malfunctioning of services like Telecash, buying airtime and purchasing data. The daily operations have been severely affected by the dysfunctional IT systems. Subscribers are failing to recharge airtime due to a combination of both system failure and loss of critical staff.’ Sources also said that clients are no longer able to replace or change SIM cards.
Telecel, which is 60% owned by the government, has been struggling financially for several years, during which time its subscriber base has fallen from a peak of over 2.5 million in 2012 to just over one million as of September 2019. The telco’s CEO Angeline Vere recently dismissed claims that she was responsible for the firm’s poor performance and falling profits, blaming the tough economic environment and unreliable power supplies.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Telecel is the smallest of Zimbabwe’s three mobile network operators, claiming around 8% of the market, while larger rivals Econet and NetOne have around 69% and 23% of subscribers, respectively.