Telecel Zimbabwe expands retail footprint, mum on licence talks

Telecel Zimbabwe expands retail footprint, mum on licence talks

HARARE, July 15 (The Source) – Mobile operator Telecel Zimbabwe on Wednesday launched a drive to expand its retail footprint, showing the company’s confidence that it will regain its operating licence which was revoked by government in April.

Company officials declined to comment on the progress of the talks or reports that majority shareholder, the Netherlands-based VimpelCom had agreed to sell its stake to government, saying they were being conducted at shareholder level.

Government cancelled the company’s licence saying it had failed to comply with local ownership regulations and to renew the licence despite constant warnings and reminders.

The firm got a temporary reprieve to continue operating after the High Court suspended the cancellation of its licence pending finalisation of its legal fight with the government. Telecel went on to pay a $5 million installment in June as part of the $137,5 million for the licence.

Chief commercial officer Nkosinathi Ncube told a press conference on Wednesday that the telco had already opened 10 franchise shops, mostly in the south of the country to increase its market share.

Telecel is Zimbabwe’s third biggest mobile operator with 2,4 million subscribers.

“Most of our franchise shops are in rural and peri-urban areas which will help include marginalized communities into the mainstream economy,” said Ncube.

“Telecel has sought the assistance of community entrepreneurs to increase our retail footprint in areas where our presence is thin through win-win partnerships which will support entrepreneurship.”

Amsterdam head-quartered communications firm VimpelCom, which owns 60 percent of the company, last December put its stake in Telecel Zimbabwe on the market and invited bids from interested investors.

The remaining 40 percent is controlled by Empowerment Corporation (EC), a local consortium.