Zim­babwe’s rev­enues from tra­di­tional voice tele­phony are de­clin­ing

As Zim­babwe’s rev­enues from the tra­di­tional voice tele­phony are de­clin­ing

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Tawanda Karombo

ZIM­BABWE’S Econet Wire­less is in­creas­ingly tap­ping into in­ter­net en­abled com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­forms in light of de­clin­ing rev­enues from the tra­di­tional voice tele­phony cat­e­gory and it has signed a part­ner­ship with Nas­daq-listed One Hori­zon Group to scrap roam­ing charges for Voice Over In­ter­net Pro­to­col (VoIP) calls.

Econet, con­trolled by Strive Masiyiwa, whose Liq­uid Tele­com has bought into Neo­tel, is one of three mo­bile op­er­a­tors in Zim­babwe that in­cludes state-owned com­peti­tors, NetOne and Tele­cel Zim­babwe.

In­ter­na­tional tele­com group Vim­pelCom last year dis­posed of its ma­jor­ity stake in Tele­cel to the gov­ern­ment.

Ex­ec­u­tives in tele­com say mo­bile com­pa­nies have to speed­ily switch fo­cus to data en­abled com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­forms to grow rev­enue gen­er­a­tion streams as voice rev­enue stag­nates.

James My­ers, the chair­per­son of Econet Wire­less, has said that the com­pany’s “new cap­i­tal in­vest­ments will in­creas­ingly fo­cus on grow­ing data” ser­vices.

“This is hap­pen­ing against the back­drop of dif­fi­cult eco­nomic con­di­tions, mak­ing it harder to gen­er­ate suf­fi­cient cap­i­tal from the cur­rent rev­enue streams to in­vest in new busi­nesses for the fu­ture,” he added.

Brian Collins, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of One Hori­zon Group, which spe­cialises in VoIP so­lu­tions for tel­cos and com­pa­nies, said on Fri­day that the new in­ter­net call­ing plat­form that Econet had kick-started “will be a new source of voice rev­enue” for both com­pa­nies.

The new ser­vice, Econet Plus, “will re­move roam­ing charges for users” and comes in­te­grated with EcoCash, the Zim­bab­wean telco’s mo­bile money plat­form. EcoCash now has more than 5 mil­lion reg­is­tered users while the Econet mo­bile net­work ac­tive user num­bers have surged above 6 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to lat­est in­dus­try data.

Econet Wire­less’ chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer, Navdeep Ka­pur, said the scrap­ping of roam­ing fees – which are a ma­jor talk­ing point among IT ex­perts seek­ing lower costs – would boost sub­scribers’ op­tions through a cheaper al­ter­na­tive.

Fayaz King, the chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer for Econet Wire­less, said last week that Zim­bab­wean tel­cos were charged with “a num­ber of bar­ri­ers in terms of pric­ing and reg­u­la­tory is­sues”.

How­ever, the Posts and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity of Zim­babwe has given the thumps up to the new in­ter­net call­ing ser­vice by Econet Wire­less, of­fi­cials said. In the year to the end of Fe­bru­ary 2017, Econet Wire­less af­ter tax prof­its sagged from $40 mil­lion (R516.04m) to $36.1m af­ter it paid about $23.5m in taxes.

African tele­com com­pa­nies are look­ing to con­nect to un­der­sea high speed in­ter­net ca­bles to help bring down the cost of in­ter­net-based ser­vices.

How­ever, land­locked com­pa­nies are still in a dis­ad­van­tage com­pared to those with sea shores that can im­me­di­ately con­nect to the un­der-sea ca­bled in terms of costs.

“Where un­der­sea fi­bre-op­tic ca­ble is avail­able, In­ter­net will gen­er­ally trump all other so­lu­tions in speed, per­for­mance, and cost,” says a re­port on world dig­i­tal trends and de­vel­op­ments.


Strive Masiyiwa, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Econet Wire­less In­ter­na­tional, dis­posed of its ma­jor­ity stake in Tele­cel to the gov­ern­ment.

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