FOREX GENERATION IS A PRIORITY FOR ECONET IN ZIMBABWE

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Zimbabwe’s largest telecommunications company, Econet Wireless, is pursuing various strategies to counter the negative effects of current economic challenges.

Company chairman Mr Tawanda Nyambirai last week said the company also intended to preserve shareholder value and continue to grow the business to meet rising demand for its products.

In remarks accompanying Econet Wireless Holdings Limited 2006 annual report, Mr Nyambirai said cost containment and the generation of foreign currency resources would be a major priority for the business.

"Demand for the group's products and services is expected to remain firm. The business is actively pursuing various strategies to counter the negative factors in the economy in order to preserve shareholder value," he said.

Econet would continue to expand its mobile cellular network and also engage the regulator on the adoption of a single international termination rate for the country that would impact positively on the company's performance and foreign currency generation if given the nod.

Econet closed the year to February 28 2006 with a total of 457 228 subscribers, up from 258 268 in June 2005, making it the largest telecommunications provider in Zimbabwe, ahead of its two rival networks and the fixed-line operator TelOne.

During the year under review, Econet commissioned 42 new base stations and upgraded a number of existing sites across Zimbabwe to further improve service, while new radio transmission links had also been commissioned to enhance network reliability.

Other significant projects undertaken included upgrading the capacity of the pre-paid platform and the short text messaging system.

"Acquisition and development work continues on a number of sites in anticipation of the next phase of the network upgrade.

The business has adopted an infrastructure development strategy to secure all local currency based materials and civil works so as to minimise project cost escalations and delays associated with the erratic foreign currency market," said Mr Nyambirai.

He said Econet had also invested in additional generators and other power back-up devices to reduce the impact of scheduled and unscheduled power outages.

Meanwhile, Econet group chief executive  Strive Masiyiwa said other companies in the Econet group had performed well despite the current economic challenges, citing the growth of the company's public payphone network trading through YourFone, as well as the expansion of Ecoweb, one of the country's leading Internet service providers which recorded a growth of 28 percent in terms of subscriber numbers.

Mr Masiyiwa said Ecoweb's subscriber numbers were expected to grow significantly following the installation of a new broadband base station in Harare.

Transaction Processing Systems, another Econet subsidiary, continued to make inroads into the local and regional markets through the sale and installation of point-of-sale systems, among other products.

The Herald