Telecel plans $40m network expansion

HARARE - Telecel Zimbabwe Private Limited (Telecel) yesterday announced plans to invest $40 million into a network expansion exercise that will see the company grow coverage to 90 percent by end of next year.

“Our network coverage is now around 75 percent of the country and we are targeting 85 percent by year end and 90 percent next year,” Telecel chief executive Francis Mahwindi told a media briefing yesterday.

He said the network expansion will see the company adding 200 base stations before end of 2012 to reach about 576 base stations.

The planned investment comes as Telecel announced it was considering listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange to raise an unspecified amount of additional capital, as the mobile operator seeks to improve competitiveness.

“We are actively pursuing various capitalisation models one of which is listing on the ZSE,” he said.

This follows Telecel’s July statement that the company would pursue various capitalisation options, including listing on the local bourse, only after current shareholder disputes are resolved.

Mahwindi said the company was on a sound footing and looking at growing profitability so that some of the earnings are channelled towards capital expenditure.

He said active subscribers stood 2,2 million at the end of August and are expected to reach 2,7 million by year end.

Going forward, said Mahwindi, Telecel is considering expanding into the region, but only after consolidating its position in Zimbabwe.

He said the company’s retail network would be expanded by 50 percent to 18 branches by year end.

The company also plans to grow its data business from the current 4,2 percent of turnover and in line with international trends that have seen telecoms companies earning more from data services.

Telecel marketing and brand development executive Obert Mandimika said the operator was growing its call centre from the current 20 agents to 90.

“Our system has capacity for more, but it’s really an issue of physical space and they will be complemented by new third generation customer care centre,” he said.

“The new call centre will have interactive voice response, known as IVR, and the capacity to deal quickly with customer care queries, whether these come to us over the phone, by email, by messaging or by text message,” the company said.

“Telecel recently installed and commissioned a new intelligent network management system that will enable us to provide our customers with more advanced value-added services.”

Telecel is 60 percent owned by Egyptian-based Orascom Telecom through its subsidiary Telecel International while 30 percent is owned by the Empowerment Corporation, a consortium of local black businessmen.

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