• The Group added 12 new 5G base stations in FY2023
  • The Group further commissioned eighty new base stations to provide additional coverage and capacity to its ever-growing customer base.
  • However, the Group incurred ZWL77 billion in exchange losses

Harare- As part of its nationwide expansion within the telecoms industry, the largest telecommunications Group, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited has added twelve 5G base stations during the year. Econet launched the 5G network in 2022 in partnership with global technology infrastructure suppliers, Ericson and ZTE. In 2022, Econet targeted 22 5G base stations by the end of April becoming the only and first fifth generation technology provider and holder in Zimbabwe. 

In a statement accompanying the financial results for the full-year ended 28 February 2023, the Group highlighted interests to further modernise the fifth-generation technology through increasing footprints of newer technologies such as virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, ultra-high-definition video (UHD) streaming, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

The fifth-generation technology is not only giving a higher competitive advantage to the Group, but it also boosts convenience capabilities to Econet Zimbabwe’s customers as it is 100 times faster than the 4th generation network. 

With 5G, there is also reduced latency, that is, the response time for a network to take action.

During the period under review, the Group further commissioned eighty new base stations to provide additional coverage and capacity to its ever-growing customer base. This helps to meet the growing demand for both voice and data traffic. 

“We commenced the deployment of a new modern core network with new generation cloud capabilities.

“As part of this network modernization effort, we also deployed state-of-the-art data centre infrastructure to ensure high availability of the network,” James Myers, the chairperson of the Group said in a statement accompanying the latest full-year 2023 financial results. 

During the period under review, Myers said Econet started deploying a new digital Know Your Customer (KYC) platform on a phased approach. The platform leverages digital identification and will centralise group KYC capabilities, distribution, and other partner management services.

All digital ID subscribers will have a greater ability to do more self-service activities on our group platforms. As we continued to drive digitalisation and digital adoption in line with our digital service provider (DSP) strategy, the business continued to promote self-help and self-care platforms for the convenience of customers,” said Myers. 

 Myers said the Group re-launched an enhanced Yamurai (WhatsApp Bot) and increased the capacity for self-care and social media platforms.

The contact centre also adopted a new automatic call distribution (ACD) system, which enables the company to handle more customers efficiently and effectively.

As part of enhancing its network modernisation programme, the business invested US$66 million in network expansion and upgrades to support business sustainability. 

However, Myers said the rapid depreciation of the local currency and exchange rate volatilities remain the biggest challenge to the company. 

During the period, the Zimbabwe dollar shed by 85%, one of the worst depreciations streek since the reintroduction of the embattled currency in 2019. 

Myers said this was further exacerbated by the national grid failure and an unfavourable tariff system which put immense pressure on the operating costs. 

“The prevailing tariff environment is a threat to the long-term viability of the local telecoms sector and curtails the ability of the sector to invest appropriately to meet customer demand, thereby undermining the quality of service.”

Resultantly, the Group incurred exchange losses of ZWL77 billion which translated to 23% of revenue against a prior year comparative rate of 6% of revenue. 

Going forward, Myers said exploiting 4G and 5G network-enabled opportunities will be key to keep abreast with emerging global trends and improve service delivery.

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