Zimbabwe: Persistent Power Outages Adversely Affected Operations, Increased Costs at Econet Wireless

Zimbabwe is currently facing acute power shortages which have led to supply being limited to less than 12 hours per day in some areas.

In its Q1 trading period to May, the group said the quality of network had been heavily compromised as a result.

“Persistent national grid power outages have affected network quality and reliability, thereby necessitating us to increase our efforts to augment our power supply with solar power,” said Econet in its latest trading update.

“However, as inflation increases and disposable incomes are coming under more pressure, there is a discernible increase in the theft of diesel, batteries and solar panels. In response, we have enhanced security at our sites to counter the effects of increased vandalism and theft.”

As previously reported, significant foreign currency losses continue to be recorded due to the weakening exchange rate which deteriorated by 172 percent for the quarter under review.

“Our access to foreign currency remains severely constrained creating further challenges in implementation of necessary network upgrades to assure the continued level of high quality service experienced by our customers.”

The business was the first mobile network operator to roll out 5G service in Harare towards the end of the last financial year.

In the quarter under review, 5G service was further rolled out in Bulawayo during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF 2022) and in Victoria Falls as well as in Chitungwiza, bringing the total number of 5G sites rolled out to 22.

The business added 100 new 4G sites to improve network and speed of data connectivity.

The company said tariffs remain below viable levels and will push for a scientific and fact-based approach to setting tariffs that takes into account the movements in the Telecommunications Price Index.

During the quarter, Econet reduced physical airtime sales from 20 percent to 10 percent of total airtime distribution and conversely recorded an uptake of airtime via electronic means. This was in line with RBZ directive regarding the phasing out of physical airtime distribution.

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