Zimbabwe's telecommunications giant Econet Wireless Holdings has been given a loan of US $7 million to increase its subscriber base, Tge firm is awaiting the delivery of its new base stations next month.

The loan is provided by the Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank and the balance will be disbursed upon receipt of project equipment. The loan has a 36-month length and will be repaid from the group's foreign currency earnings.

Econet is in a drive to increase its subscriber base and has developed more than 80 base stations and the sites are now awaiting installation of the new equipment and will be commissioned by the end of the year.The company has committed about 5 billion Zimbabwe dollars (20 million U.S. dollars) for its network expansion.

More than 300,000 lines are expected to be released next month in a development that will see the company increase its foothold on the local market and substantially increase its subscriber basefrom 500,000 to 800,000.

Also as part of the program, the company will introduce the 3-G service in the country and about 50,000 cellular lines for this service over and above the 300,000 lines will also be released.

Econet Wireless Holdings chief executive officer Douglas Mboweni said that despite the single hike of 202 percent in tariffs in the last 12 months, the company had managed to registercommendable growth in earnings.

This shows that the company is clearly using subscriber growth, increase in airtime usage, as well as investment of its cash in other areas of the economy, as the basis for growing its profitability, he said.