Govt’s ZW$184 billion debt chokes TelOne

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By Alois Vinga

GOVERNMENT’s total debt amounting to a whooping ZW$184 billion owed to TelOne coupled with a host of legacy issues are limiting the concern from realizing its full potential.

The country’s only licensed Unified Telecommunications Company is sitting on a lucrative expansionary potential requiring capital injection but can still fund its projects internally if the owing debtors pay

Speaking to journalists Thursday just before the kickoff of a media sensitization tour, TelOne CEO, Lawrence Nkala said the huge debt is a major setback.

“As at January 31 2023 government’s total debt to TelOne stood at ZW$184 billion. It has continued to grow since then and coupled with legacy debts transferred to the company as back as the late 1980s leaves the company in distress,” he said.

Nkala said the company has made huge strides to recover the debt and continues to engage the responsible authorities over the urgent matter.

“We have gone to every office which matters in a bid to recover the outstanding amounts. What is more challenging is the fact that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and other agencies we pay levies to in our sector don’t even mind that we haven’t received the payments when they demand their dues,” he said.

The company is also saddled by infrastructure vandalism setbacks on the back of reports that a total of 316 live network attacks occurred during the year ended December 31, 2023.

TelOne said the value of the vandalised network in 2023 stood at US$518 827, while an estimated business loss for the period stood at US$480 950.

The highest live network attacks in Harare in 2023, followed by the Midlands Province with Matabeleland North having the least number of attacks.

The firm is now planning to decommission the copper-based infrastructure as part of a strategy to end the vandalism once and for all.