Mobile telecommunications giant, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited says the persistent power cuts have adversely affected network availability while putting additional costs of running alternative energy generators to sustain operations.
The Zimbabwe Energy Supply Authority (ZESA) has been consistently rationing power citing ongoing maintenance work at various power stations including Kariba and Hwange.
In its third quarter to November 2021 (Q3) trading update, Econet said despite undertaking installation of solar power solutions and diesel powered generators to sustain network towers, the situation has led to network supply disruptions.
“Persistent national grid power outages continued to adversely affect network availability,” the telecoms firm said.
“The business is accelerating installation of solar power solutions and saw increased usage of our already installed diesel-powered generators which are costlier to run and maintain.”
On top of this, the company said it also witnessed increased cases of vandalism and theft at its telecom tower sites, which is also creating service disruptions.
“This has put additional pressure on the business to import spare parts using scarce foreign currency to enable us to respond quickly to service outages,” said Econet.
During period, the company commissioned 80 LTE (4G) new sites as part of its LTE densification program, including extension of high speed data coverage to rural areas.
The company recorded an increase in data and voice traffic of 43% and 6% respectively compared to previous year during the quarter.
This was complimented by Postal Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) approval of increases in bundle tariffs for data, SMS and voice services in order to address the erosion of real tariffs due to inflation.
Econet said it is taking measures to address the limitations for customers that are not able to easily access virtual channels of buying airtime following Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe directive to phase out of physical distribution of airtime.
All mobile network operators were directed to reduce physical airtime sales to 20 percent of total airtime distribution by the end of January 2022 and to 10 percent by the end of April 2022.