The board of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has resolved to slash international call rates in a bid to boost the contribution of international calls to the company’s overall income, which had fallen considerably over the years.
The country’s largest telecoms company Monday said it had complied with immediate effect and announced it had cut the rates by up to 50%.
The move comes about three weeks after the company introduced inter-network per second billing which also covers international calls.
Zimbabweans can now call destinations such as the UK and South Africa for as little as 24 cents per minute or 0,004 cents per second.
In combination, calls to South Africa are now cheaper than reverse calls to Zimbabwe by mobile operators in the country.
Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni said the cuts were the deepest ever undertaken by any operator, adding the move would boost
efficiencies and the contribution of international calls to the company’s overall income.
“During our initial growth phase, international calls contributed over 25% to turnover. Today, that contribution has fallen. International tariffs have been falling globally for a number of years, and that trend is likely to continue,” Mboweni said.
“Last year our board told us to review tariffs and introduce per second billing once we had completed most of the expansion. Our tariffs are now the cheapest not just in Zimbabwe, but they are now very competitive within the region,” he said.
In the last 12 months, Econet Wireless South Africa, the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) venture set up by Econet Wireless Group (EWG), sold more than 500 000 SIM cards to Zimbabweans living in South Africa.
An MVNO is a telecoms operator that uses the network of another operator to offer services to its own customers.
Virgin Mobile, a business owned by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, pioneered the concept and operates similar businesses in Europe, South Africa and America.
EWG said the service had been spectacularly successful and was now being extended to Africans living in South Africa from other countries, such as Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique.
An Econet Wireless spokesman said the company was very pleased with the business and would now extend a wide range of new and unique services to customers.
He predicted that SIM card sales would exceed one million within a few months, making Econet Wireless South Africa one of the key players in the South African market.
The success of such a concept usually requires a very well recognised brand which is supported by a specific market segment.
Econet Wireless enjoys a very strong brand
recognition amongst Africans in general because of its unique status as a multinational African
company started by an African entrepreneur.
Zimbabweans who live outside the country have a very strong bond with Econet and have shown this by their support of the business in South Africa and the UK where a similar venture was recently set up.