Econet warns of dire consequences if load shedding persists

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By Mary Taruvinga

Econet Wireless has warned that it will soon implement new measures if power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) fails to guarantee uninterrupted power supply.

The announcement comes two days after there was complete shutdown of the giant telecoms facility which left millions of subscribers and businesses stranded.

The shutdown which lasted over half a day on Saturday was attributed load shedding.

The mobile operator said the impact of load shedding is so huge that it’s overriding their efficiency.

Econet also said the expenses now being incurred would drive them out of business.

“We wish to take this opportunity to update our valued customers and the general public on the impact of the current power crisis.

“Our network was designed to withstand a set level of power outages and the highest such level has now been exceeded as a result of the ongoing rolling power outages being experienced across the country.

“In order to mitigate the impact on service quality and network performance, Econet has made attempts in the reality of serious fuel shortages to increase diesel fuel allocated to our base station sites. Even with these contingency measures, the increased fuel allocation is still inadequate to ensure the required optimum network performance and at current regulated pricing levels, the related costs are not sustainable,” said Econet after apologising for the weekend hiccup.

Econet said the severe shortage of both electrical power and diesel fuel means that some of its base stations will not be operational when there is no ZESA power or when fuel runs out on a site.

“This inevitably results in the degradation of all services supported by the network in terms of service availability, call setup, call success rates, dropped call rates and speech quality.

“It is increasingly becoming untenable and uneconomical for Econet to guarantee a reasonable grade of service and optimal network uptime under the current conditions,” said Econet.

According to Econet, with ongoing aggressive electricity load shedding, the requirements are at more than six times the diesel they are currently using in order to provide uninterrupted service.

Econet said they cannot sustain the current operating conditions of running back-up generators for 14 to 18 hours daily, based on the current heavily eroded tariffs.

“We are also now incurring higher costs because of the heavy reliance on generators as we now have to service the generators every fortnight, as opposed to the scheduled quarterly service intervals.

“Our voice tariffs have remained static in a business operating environment where the local currency has lost nearly 900 per cent value to the US dollar since the beginning of the year, and where the price of the fuel has risen by more than 500 per cent since the beginning of the year.”