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Zimbabwe’s NetOne plans to expand

March 11, 2010 • Mobile and Telecoms

NetOne, Zimbabwe’s first mobile operator launched in 1996, is planning to triple its subscriber base by May this year, in order to catch up with its competitors Telecel and Econet Wireless.

The telecom provider currently has only 500 000 subscribers, lagging behind Telecel with 600 000 and Econet Wireless with 3,6 million.

“We should be able to triple our current subscriber base by May, thanks to certain funds, which have come as loans. We are erecting new switching systems and our coverage is far wider in other areas other than Bulawayo and Harare. We should be able to start releasing SIM cards quickly by May”, commented NetOne board chairman, Callistus Ndlovu, cited by government’s publication, The Herald.

The major challenges for NetOne in achieving its expansion plans, despite the economic downturn, were hyperinflation which lead to currency changes and lack of financial support from its major shareholder, the Government.

Ndlovu said the company “managed to engage strategic partners” to increase capacity and improve mobile services in order to support the target of 1,5 million subscribers by May.

NetOne has partnered with service providers, Zellco and Firstel telecoms – mobile virtual network operators – both receiving 30% of gross profit from the sale of NetOne’s SIM cards, according to Ndlovu.

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