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Econet hit by power cuts

ZIMBABWE’S biggest mobile telecoms firm, Econet Wireless, says its operations have been rattled by rolling power cuts and extensive vandalism of its infrastructure.

In a trading update for the third quarter ended November 30, 2021, Econet company secretary Charles Banda said the firm was forced to use scarce foreign currency to import spares for replacing those vandalised.

“Persistent national grid power outages continued to adversely affect network availability,” Banda said on Friday.

“The business is accelerating installation of solar power solutions and saw increased usage of our already installed diesel-powered generators which are costlier to run and maintain,” Banda noted.

“This has put additional pressure on the business to import spare parts using scarce foreign currency to enable us to respond quickly to service outages,” Banda said.

He said the company had also suffered from increased cases of vandalism and theft at its telecom assets.

Vandalism has also been reported in power infrastructure, where firms have been pushing for stiffer penalties.

He said the company commissioned 80 long term evolution (LTE) (4G) new sites as part of its LTE densification programme, including extension of high-speed data coverage to rural areas.

“This bears testimony to our vision of creating a digitally connected future that leaves no Zimbabwean behind. During the period under review, we received additional spectrum from the regulator which will pave the way for us to introduce new services bringing more convenience to our customers,” Sibanda said.

He revealed that data and voice traffic grew by 43% and 6% respectively compared to the previous year.

During the quarter under review, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe approved increases in bundle tariffs for data, SMS and voice services in order to address the erosion of real tariffs due to inflation, he added.

On challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sibanda said the company continued to innovate and adapt operations to best respond and deliver services through digital channels.

“An agile staff work plan and robust digital platforms have allowed the business to sustain productivity and service delivery in addition to being accommodative of employee wellness,” he said.

Companies have been hard hit by frequent power outages which have had a severe strain on its operations.

The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce estimated that the cost of doing business has increased by approximately 150% due to power cuts and other problems in the past year.

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