Bianca Mlilo Business Reporter
THE Government has since the beginning of the year facilitated a $263 million investment package into NetOne, the country’s second largest telecommunications operator, for network expansion, an official has said.
NetOne is a private company wholly owned by the government and enjoys about 30,7 percent market dominance in Zimbabwe.
NetOne acting chief executive officer Mr Brian Mutandiro told Business Chronicle in an interview on the sidelines of a launch of “One Fusion Bulawayo” on Friday that the investment had allowed the company to spread its wings and entice more subscribers.
“NetOne is a vibrant network, thanks to investments by the Government. We’ve had two very important injections facilitated by the Government from China,” said Mr Mutandiro.
“There was the first phase where $45 million was invested and was followed up by the second phase where $218 million was invested. This investment has taken us to a level where we can now give connectivity to 6,5 million people.
“Now we’re going into the third phase where $485 million is going to be invested in NetOne to make sure the whole country has connectivity.”
He said the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe had informed them that NetOne was the only network with increasing subscribers and revenue, which was testament to the relevance of the government’s investment.
Mr Mutandiro said at the end of last year, the company recorded a loss of $3 million but indications on the ground were that it has moved into profitability.
Asked to comment on figures for the first half of the year, Mr Mutandiro said: “I don’t have numbers yet but I’m told by the chief finance officer that we’ve got a positive bottom line.”
He said he believed that they were doing so well that they would declare a dividend to government, adding that the next six months would be defining for NetOne.
As part of its drive to connecting the whole country, NetOne launched its One Fusion prepaid package in Bulawayo on Friday.
The service gives subscribers a comprehensive plan that has bundles for on-net and off net minutes, data, SMS, social media bundles and international minutes. The packages range between $5 and $200.