Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Econet Ordered To Restore Interconnection With NetOne

Zimbabwe’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, Econet Wireless, has been forced to reverse its decision to switch off interconnection with state-owned NetOne.

Econet decided to cut services to NetOne owing a dispute over interconnection fees amounting to more than USD20 million that Econet claimed had been unpaid since 2009. However, the country’s high court has now ordered Econet to resume interconnection with NetOne. Econet says it is also trying to recover unpaid interconnection fees from TelOne.

And, in a separate development, Econet says it has begun taking delivery of new equipment that will see the capacity of its mobile network increase to ten million subscribers.

‘Shipment of the equipment, which began in the last few days, is expected to continue well into next year. The equipment is being supplied by Ericsson of Sweden and the Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer ZTE,’ the company said in a statement. ‘The new expansion drive by Econet is also expected to see its investment in Zimbabwe exceed USD1 billion, the largest ever in the country’s history. It follows the approval by the Econet board to "mop up" the remaining demand for lines in the Zimbabwe market.’

At the end of June 2012 Econet had almost seven million subscribers, corresponding to a market share of around 65%.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nigerian Regulators Unaware of Merger Plans

Last week Nigeria’s Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson, made an official presentation to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the government’s plans for merging the country’s telecoms and broadcasting regulators, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

However, local newspaper This Day quotes NBC director general, Yomi Bolarinwa, as saying that the commission is unaware of such a move by the government. ‘NBC is a government agency, we have not been informed by government of any merger, when government writes [to] us, then we will know. Now, we don’t have knowledge of such merger,’ the official said in a phone interview.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Vodacom Targeting Angola, Uganda, Ethiopia

South Africa-based mobile group Vodacom has confirmed that it is ready to expand its operational footprint across Africa, and is on the hunt for small-scale acquisitions. Vodacom, which is majority owned by the UK’s Vodafone Group, currently operates in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and chief executive Pieter Uys told Dow Jones Newswires that the company is looking to make a series of acquisitions in the USD100 million range.

Uys noted that Vodacom will focus on countries that offer a stable political environment, have densely populated cities and offer room for growth. As such, the CEO pinpointed Angola, Ethiopia and Uganda as likely targets. Announcing its FY11 results earlier this week, Vodacom noted that the financial year ended March was the first time that its operations outside South Africa have contributed positive cash flow. As a result, Uys told Dow Jones: ‘We feel more comfortable that we have the recipe to be successful outside South Africa’.

In March 2012 Sifiso Dabengwa, CEO of Vodacom’s chief rival MTN Group confirmed that his company was interested in lining up so-called ‘bolt-on’ deals in new African markets, once again naming Angola and Ethiopia. In the former, a third mobile licence has been expected for some time, with state-run incumbent Angola Telecom keen to secure an international partner to assist with its entrance to the sector. Meanwhile, Ethiopia is one of the few countries in Africa still operating a monopoly in the wireless sector, with state-run Ethio Telecom the sole licensee.

Elsewhere, Uganda is overcrowded by comparison, boasting six active wireless operators, with another, Sure Telecom Uganda, waiting in the wings. Of the country’s cellcos, Uganda Telecom Ltd and Warid Telecom Uganda are plausible targets, with the ownership of both companies coming under scrutiny in recent years.