New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Econet Turnover Reaches U.S $753 Million, Profits Top U.S $119 Million

ZIMBABWE'S largest mobile telecoms company, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, on Monday revealed that turnover reached US$752,7 million for the twelve months to February this year.

The company, which also owns Mutare Bottling Company and Steward Bank, said it generated $119.4 million in profits after tax over the same period.

Management said US$20million of the profit has been set aside for dividend payments while the balance reinvested in the business and used to pay off loans from international banks. The company is currently repaying US$228 million in debts to various international banks.

Announcing the financial results Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO, Douglas Mboweni, said revenue for the year had had jumped eight percent, largely driven by the growth in data and overlay services.

Voice revenue growth had remained flat as voice had now matured.

Mboweni said that with mobile penetration now in excess of 103 percent, new customers coming onto the company's network were no longer able to contribute significantly to growth in revenue.

"Everyone in the country whoever 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 pointed out that 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 for the year.

"When you reach more than 100% 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," said Mboweni.

Econet Wireless will pay a dividend of 1,29 cents per share to its 9 000-plus shareholders for the first time in more than three years.

The company, which has paid out more than US$900 million to the government in taxes, fees and duties over the last five years, is the only operator that has paid the full fee of US$137,5 million to the government for the renewal of its operating licence.

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