Telecel seeks $200m to expand network

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THE country’s second largest mobile service operator, Telecel, is seeking a $200 million loan to boost capacity and  increase its subscriber network to 5,5 million from the current five million by year end, Parliament heard on Monday.
“We are in discussions with banks and we are looking at an immediate investment of about $200 million and this should take us to a 5,5 million subscriber network,” the company’s general manager Angeline Vere told the parliamentary portfolio committee on communication technology.
Vere said the company, which commands a 28 percent market share, could increase its active subscriber base to 3,3 million  from 2,3 million.
“We are also looking at increasing 3G reach and have started on our fibre optic connectivity,” she said, adding that the company had finalised the move from microwave connection to fibre for the Harare to Gweru route and was now working on Gweru to Bulawayo.
She said the company’s mobile transfer platform telecash, launched in February this year, has facilitated the transfer of $15 million with over registered 600,000 users.
The company is experiencing high costs of borrowing to fund projects and erratic power supplies, which have seen it resorting to expensive batteries and generators.
Vere said Telecel was also battling traffic re-filing, with people not licensed to provide telecommunications services using foreign devices to facilitate illegal movement of international traffic to the network, while prejudicing the company of revenue.
“Our appeal to you as legislators is to review the laws to ensure penalties are stringent to deter these criminals,” she said.
The Telecel boss also appealed for the legalisation of airtime vending and relaxation of laws to allow the erection of kiosks and to make infrastructure sharing mandatory.
“We are not advocating for a situation where someone who has invested a lot into towers is now being disadvantaged. It has to be a commercial decision which makes sense to all the parties involved,” said communications director, Obert Mandimika said.Advertisement