Earlier on the proposal of not duplicating infrastructure, and share what was available was point-blank rejected by our local mobile network operators (MNOs) who viewed possession of infrastructure as a competitive tool but years later today we are witnessing Zimbabwe’s two largest mobile network operators (MNOs) — Econet Wireless and NetOne Cellular — have signing an infrastructure sharing pact that will widen network coverage, particularly in rural areas.
Econet Wireless being the largest telecoms company in Zimbabwe, in spite of the intense pressure from government, was reasonably frank enough to say that it will share infrastructure on an equitable basis, calling it one-for-one. Econet’s model is very simple but can you really blame Econet? Absolutely not. These dealings of infrastructure sharing should be done in good faith.
Therefore we would want to believe that the pact between Econet Wireless and NetOne Cellular was done in good faith on an equitable basis.
Millions of Zimbabweans who subscribe to the two networks are expected to benefit from the development through enhanced services and efficiency.
It is also anticipated that the agreement will lead to reduced operational costs.
NetOne Chief Executive Officer Mr Lazarus Muchenje said infrastructure sharing dovetails with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030, which seeks to propel the country’s economy towards an upper middle income status in the next eleven years.
“This agreement allows NetOne and Econet to optimise the utilisation of scarce foreign currency as it eliminates the duplication of infrastructure,” he stated.
“This is a watershed agreement which supports Vision 2030, which is to create a middle-income status economy, through improved accessibility of ICTs across the country.”
Econet Chief Executive Offier Mr Douglas Mboweni said the agreement was “a giant step” that was long overdue.
“We are happy to have signed this agreement, something we have wanted to do in a very long time.
“We consider this to be a very fair arrangement and believe it represents a giant step in our collective endeavour to bring connectivity and ICT services to all Zimbabweans,” he said.
The agreement defines the site-sharing parameters among the two operators, including arrangements on sharing towers, commercial and back-up power supply, back haul transmission and security.
Econet and NetOne serve more than 90 percent of the country’s close to 13 million active mobile network subscribers.
The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe has been encouraging telecoms operators to share infrastructure as this is a viable business model.