Africaâ€™s booming telecommunications industry has left Zimbabwe trailing behind, as the declining economy has hindered the countryâ€™s main operatorsâ€™ ability to expand their networks, said a leading industry official on Wednesday.
The market potential is currently estimated at 30 percent, and Zimbabwe has only reached 6 percent. â€œWe have just scratched the surface,â€ he added.
He laso said that Zimbabwe had to have an injection of foreign currency, the lack of which was slowing the companyâ€™s ability to expand
Zimbabweâ€™s year-on-year inflation rate is just below 1,200 percent, making it the highest in the world. This has resulted in a decline in service as customers need to wait for months before SIM cards are made available on the market. Most Zimbabweans are forced to purchase them on a flourishing black market, at nearly 10 times higher compared to the official price.
Zimbabweâ€™s international calling tariffs are one of the cheapest in the world, resulting in a rise in international traffic.
In July, Econet secured a loan of US$20 million from Cairo-based Africa Export Import Bank to assist them in increasing its subscriber base to 800,000 by October.
Econet currently has 57 percent of the market share while privately- owned Telecel Zimbabwe has 12 percent, and state-run Net*One has 26 percent.
The company is currently engaged in a battle to win over corporate customers from smaller competitors, following the introduction of a new tariff system which Econet says favors the company due to its efficiency and economies of scale.