MOBILE phone operator Econet says it is ready to share infrastructure with other operators but only if all players contribute equally.
Speaking at the four day Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ) Winter School which ended yesterday in Victoria Falls, Econet chief executive Mr Douglas Mboweni said the company was already sharing some infrastructure with Telecel.
Mr Mboweni said Econet had invested a lot of money and it cannot allow a situation whereby other players ride on its infrastructure without investing as well.
“We are still adhering to the principle that we should share infrastructure but that must be in a viable manner. Our position hasn’t changed, the principle is that we share infrastructure at equitable levels where if one builds in Gutu, there is no need for the next player to go to the same area but should build infrastructure in another district and we share using that model of equity in a one-for-one scenario,” he said.
Mr Mboweni said Econet had always supported the idea of sharing infrastructure.
“Econet was the last entrant in the mobile sector when others had been there for two years but we were first to propose infrastructure sharing. Our colleagues’ perception then was that infrastructure was a competition tool hence there was rejection.
“We then borrowed to build our own infrastructure and to then turn around and say just give away when others are not putting anything, hang on a minute, it’s not fair,” said Mr Mboweni.
Econet has spent over $1 billion in its infrastructure development for wide network coverage.
Mr Mboweni proposed a situation whereby operators spread across the country to develop infrastructure in different directions than to have one player constructing and others riding on that.
Government raised the issue after realising that it was easy to roam in a foreign land while locally citizens could not get network in an area where their operator would not have invested.
Late last year Government gazetted Statutory Instrument 137 of 2016, seeking to eliminate ‘unnecessary duplication of telecommunication infrastructure’ by maximising the use of existing and future telecommunication infrastructure.
The regulation mandates telecommunications operators to share infrastructure, a move which could cut costs by as much as 60 percent, promote the national interest and reduce duplication. – @ncubeleon