Econet raises US$20 million for Zimbabwean network expansion
Econet Wireless has raised the entire funding for its expansion programme targeted to lift network capacity to 1.2 million. The firm is now waiting for contractors and suppliers to finish their work. Earlier this year, Econet secured US$20 million from the PTA Bank to help fund its expansion projects.
Econet chief executive Douglas Mboweni said this week all the funding was in place and work on construction was at an advanced stage. He said local contractors were now putting up towers, which had been disrupted by the price freeze. Mr Mboweni said the mobile phone company had already identified 240 additional sites to install some of the base stations adding to more than 300 base stations already operational.
Econet is expanding capacity from the current 800,000 to 1.2 million by February next year. The company awarded contracts to Ericsson of Sweden and ZTE of China to supply the network equipment. Ericsson is providing equipment to expand the core network which is made up of the switching systems, Intelligent Network platforms, prepaid systems and new base stations in Harare, Mashonaland and Manicaland. On the other hand, ZTE is supplying radio base stations for the southern part of the country, covering Bulawayo urban and its environs, Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland provinces. The Chinese company will also build new sites in remote rural areas and along the national highways. Mr Mboweni said although getting foreign currency funding for each year's expansion was difficult, Econet would continue exploring for innovative ways to do so.