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Non-registered Zimbabwe mobile subscribers disconnected

TelecommunicationsHARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE’S leading mobile network operator, Econet Wireless, has disconnected more than 1 million subscribers that have failed to register with the network.

The move is said to have been influenced by recent developments in Nigeria where MTN, the continent’s biggest mobile operator, has been fined heavily for failure to disconnect more than 5 million subscribers that did not register their details with the network.

MTN has been fined a whopping $5,2 billion (about R75 billion) penalty in Nigeria for flouting the regulations.

It is negotiating for the payment to reduced as well be allowed to make the payment in batches for an agreed period.Econet Wireless, by disconnecting the non-compliant subscribers, has thus shown prevention is better than cure.The company, which has some 9 million subscribers, was also the first mobile network operator in the country to pay a renewal licence fee of $137,5 million (about R1,98 billion).

Other networks such as Telecel Zimbabwe, which took long to heed the government licence renewal call, had its operating licence suspended by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRZA).

However, the move raised eyebrows with industry players and subscribers arguing that the government’s heavy handedness on privately owned mobile networks was inequitable as the state owned NetOne had not paid.

The failure by Telecel Zimbabwe to regularise its shareholding structure, which was said to be heavily skewed in favour of foreigners, worsened the company’s woes.Under the conditions of the licence, the foreign ownership of the company was limited to not more than 49 percent as required by the Communications Act.

Telecel International held 60 percent of the shares, and this left 11 percent disputed shares that Telecel was required to restructure.Sensing danger of losing their operating licence, Telecel Zimbabwe, which had earlier been given 90 days to comply until June 30 had businessman, Dr James Makamba, to thank after paying US$3,5 million (about R50.4 million) to Telecel International for the disputed  shares.

– CAJ News

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