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ECONET Wireless Ltd, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile phone operator says turnover for 12 months to February this year increased on growth in data and overlay services. Revenue for the period rose 8 percent from a year earlier to $752,7 million, the company said in a statement yesterday. Voice revenue remained flat despite adding 780 000 subscribers onto its network because “the voice had now matured”.

Chief executive Mr Douglas Mboweni said with penetration now in excess of 10 percent, new customers coming onto the network were no longer able to contribute significantly to growth in revenue.

“Everyone in the country who wants service now has it. So, although we added over 780 000 new subscribers over the last 12 months, they did not help to increase revenue,” he said.

“When you reach more than 100 percent penetration of service in any country, it means that virtually everyone now has a phone. This situation is not unique to Zimbabwe.

“It has happened elsewhere, and so we had long anticipated it and had begun to invest heavily in new services. We are beginning to see the fruit of that work.”

Mr Mboweni said the broadband and new services such as EcoCash were growing very rapidly, helping to offset the slowdown in SMS. Broadband grew by 62 percent and EcoCash by 307 percent, contributing more than 14 percent to the overall revenue.

Econet, which also owns Mutare Bottling Company and Steward Bank, realised profit after tax of $119,4 million. It declared a dividend of 1,29 cents per share to its 9 000 plus shareholders for the first time in more than three years.

Only $20 million of the profit will go towards dividend payment and the balance will be reinvested in the business and used to pay off loans from international banks.

The company is currently repaying $228 million in debts to various international banks.

The company, has paid out more than $900 million to the Government in taxes, fees and duties over the last five years.

Source : The Herald

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