By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE’s largest mobile network provider, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ) has blamed erratic power supplies as the cause the service provider is failing to provide better connectivity to its customers.
Presenting the group’s performance for the year ended February 2020, EWZ chairperson James Myers said incessant power cuts had choked the group’s network quality.
“Our service quality and network availability were significantly impacted by power disruptions. Our network, during the peak of load shedding, required over 3 million litres of diesel to operate optimally,” said Myers.
“This is a cost-inefficient way to power the network as 1 kW of diesel power is three times more expensive than 1 kW of solar power, limiting the number of base stations that could be operated in this manner.”
He added service disruptions were also affecting mobile money services across the country.
As a result, operational costs increased due to constant servicing of the EWZ generators and also run an extensive fleet of fuel refilling tankers to ensure that network availability remained at an acceptable standard.
“Our strategy to implement a clean energy network, driven by solar power is critical as we are cognisant of the power deficit that the country may continue to experience into the foreseeable future,” Myers said.
The group said the increasing digitalisation of the economy required more 4G and LTE network technologies.
“Increased access to data services is necessary to support, among other critical imperatives, online education, health, and business digitalisation initiatives.”
Currently with 3G population coverage is about 70 % for data services across the country and EWZ has 90% of the population covered by data-capable base stations, Based on internet penetration rate only 59% of the population have access to internet services.
During the period under review, EWZ experienced a 31% increase in revenue in inflation-adjusted terms to $ 6.8 billion. Earnings before interest decreased by 4% from the previous year to $ 2.7 billion.