HomeNewsEconet, NetOne clash over $9m debt

Econet, NetOne clash over $9m debt

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Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s biggest telecoms operator, has clashed with its major rival, the government-owned NetOne Cellular over a $9 million debt.
Econet took the matter to High Court on Tuesday demanding immediate payment but NetOne boss Reward Kangai said he was not yet aware of the development.
The companies operate under an agreement that allows traffic to flow between the networks.
Kangai said in the case where NetOne ended up owing Econet money it meant that his company would not have paid money owing from calls made by NetOne users to the Econet network.
“I am not yet aware of the court proceedings that you are talking about,” Kangai said. “What a debt to Econet would mean however is that more NetOne users would have called Econet mobile phone users.”
He said the matter would be dealt with without the network providers cutting off the other because all network providers were interconnected and it would not be possible for any one of them to decide to cut off users because the agreement that the providers entered into made that illegal. Any such move would prejudice callers and receivers on all networks and as such was not conceivable.
“The plaintiff (Econet) and the defendant (NetOne) entered into an inter-connection agreement in terms of which plaintiff provided to the defendant telecommunication services including voice traffic and leased circuits,” Econet says in court papers.
Econet said the debt accumulated over a year and that their competitor had sought to disown part of the debt.
“The charges for the period (from) January 2009 to May 10 2010 due and owing to the plaintiff by the defendant amount to $9 334 938 85 which amount, despite demand, defendant refuses/neglects to pay.”
NetOne has 10 days to enter an appearance to defend.
Econet is Zimbabwe’s dominant mobile operator boasting over 73% of the mobile market according to the regulator, Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz). It is followed by Telecel Zimbabwe.
NetOne is third largest but says plans are underway to raise its subscribers to seven million following last month’s $45 million facility from China Eximbank to improve its switching capacity.
“This facility will provide additional switching capacity and by the time we are done, we should have more than seven million capacity on our network,” Kangai said while receiving the concessionary facility – the first financial boost the operator had received in ten years.

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