ZIMBABWE’S top cellular mobile company- Econet Wireless Group has become the first foreign operator to enter the United Kingdom (UK)’s communication market.
ECONET Wireless Group with operations in East, South and West Africa has defied all odds to become Africa’s first mobile cellular company to enter international mobile communications business.
Econet Wireless Corporate Communications Manager, Rangarirai Mberi, told our reporters on Monday (today) that his company had entered the UK’s Mobile Virtual Network market after signing an agreement with mobile firm Orange that would allow Econet to offer services to its own customers in the UK using the Orange network.
In a statement, Orange said that whilst Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) were quite popular in the UK, with the likes of Virgin Mobile, owned by Richard Branson, this was the first time a foreign operator had entered the UK market.
“Orange had to fight off another major operator, Vodafone, to clinch the deal with Econet.
“The reason for the intense interest in Econet comes from the fact that market research shows that Econet is now one of the most admired businesses amongst Africans.
“There is a strong brand recognition of Econet because many people across Africa, see the company, as an ‘African success story, in a world of Western and now Eastern multinationals.”
Many Africans living in the UK are expected to change their Sim cards to Econet.
Apart from the strong brand recognition amongst Africans in the Diaspora, Econet, which operates a similar service working with Cell C in South Africa, has developed some unique services for its Diaspora customers, including low cost calls to their home countries, and also insurance and money transfer.
The MVNO with Orange in the UK, is not the first time Econet has ventured outside Africa. The operator helped create New Zealand’s third operator, and has minority interests in operators in Bolivia, Dominican Republic, and Haiti.
It has a well established UK based operation that provides banking network support for banks with operations in Africa, and also operates its own teleport linking African telcos around the world.
MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe