The Government of Zimbabwe, through Zarnet, an ICT company it wholly owns has completed the purchase of the 60% stake that was owned by Russian international company, Vimplecom. This was done last month when the balance of the purchase ($30 million) was paid, after a $10 million deposit. It is said Government received the $30 million from NSSA, the social security pension fund.
This makes Telecel Zimbabwe the fourth mobile network (after NetOne, PowerTel and TelOne – yes, they have a mobile licence) that Government has a controlling stake in. The Government also has shares in Africom, another mobile network.
Telecel Zimbabwe’s other 40% shareholding is in the hands of a local consortium but they have had their squabbles and previously wanted to dispose of their shareholding.
This brings us to a number of questions: Why would the government want to control yet another mobile operator when it is failing to profitably manage the ones it already owns outright? How would this complement the plans that are already underway to activate the mobile network licence held by another government operator, TelOne?
Perhaps this was done in order to sell off the company to an international investor? If anything, we should be clamoring for more foreign direct investment (FDI) and not taking over companies ourselves.
Albeit, it will be interesting to watch the performance of the company, who have lost considerable market share over the last two years due to shareholder issues.
Will Econet still have a run for their money?