20 November 2002


Zimbabwe’s government has broken open its telecoms monopoly by granting a licence to a second fixed line telephone company, TeleAccess. "This comes as a great relief and gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our ability to offer services to subscribers," TeleAccess chief executive Daniel Shumba told BBC News Online.

State-owned TelOne has previously been the only supplier of fixed-line services, but has been unable to keep up with demand. More than 1 million people are thought to be on TelOne’s waiting list, with many people waiting for several months to be connected. Only 2-2.5% of Zimbabwe’s population have a connection to a fixed line phone, and Mr Shumba said he hoped to raise this proportion significantly within two years.

TeleAccess has been waiting more than a year to gain its licence from the government. The granting of a licence also gives the green light to the creation of a regional broadband network across the Comesa region. TeleAccess won a tender to build the regional network, but had to first prove that it was providing telecoms services within its home market.

Daniel Shumba said that, after a painful wait, the regional network should be rolled out by the middle of next year. Shumba is one of Zimbabwe’s most flamboyant businessmen, entering the telecoms market after retiring as an army officer in 1990.