Last week, Aimable Mpore, Telecel Zimbabwe’s Managing Director, presented evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology. Mr Mpore highlighted changes in employee nationality and moves towards using local suppliers as much as possible.
He said the company intended during 2011 to try to source any rollout materials locally, as long as they met the company’s quality, cost and delivery time requirements.
Last Thursday, February 24, Mpore told a parliamentary committee that 8 of the 14 contractors hired by Telecel last year to provide towers, masts and related civil works were local companies. Most of the towers were imported from South Africa due to quality and capacity considerations.
Furthermore, most of the equipment that could not be obtained locally for Telecel’s core network, billing, radio and transmission network for both 2G and 3G services was supplied by Chinese companies. Huawei, ZTE, Converse and Nokia-Siemens Networks (NSN) were the major suppliers.
He said all expatriate staff are on fixed term contracts. They are being understudied by Zimbabweans, who are expected to take over from them when their contracts expire. Only three of the company’s seven senior managers immediately below the managing director are expatriates. Since his appointment the number of Zimbabweans employed at Telecel had almost doubled from 150 to nearly 300.
Asked what benefits Telecel had brought to its customers, Mr Mpore highlighted Telecel’s drastic reduction in the price of its SIM card, which has forced competitors to bring their prices down too.
Telecel has also established a mobile banking platform that has the potential to bring large numbers of people who do not currently have access to bank accounts, including people in rural areas without banks, into the banking system.
It brought down the cost of international calls to 23 major international destinations to the same as the cost of a local call.
Among the major challenges Telecel faces, Mr Mpore highlighted power supply problems as a result of loadshedding.
On legislation he would like to see introduced to assist the mobile phone networks, he suggested the licence fee paid to Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), which had been increased to three percent of gross turnover, revert to the previous one-and-a-half percent and that lawful interception equipment, which the networks are expected to install for security reasons but which is expensive, be paid for out of the Universal Services Fund.
By Angela Meadon