GLOBAL telecommunciations operator Telecel International has denied reports that it was pulling out of Zimbabwe.
In a statement on Monday, the company’s international chairman John Swaim said the operator had been “puzzled by recent articles in the southern African press questioning Telecel International’s ongoing commitment to its investment in Telecel Zimbabwe”.
This follows foreign media reports that the telecommunications firm had decided to shut down because it was reluctant to pay the $137,5 million required for a new 20-year licence to operate in Zimbabwe.
The company owns 60% of Telecel Zimbabwe, with the balance owned by Zimbabwean consortium Empowerment Corporation.
The latter holds its 40% through a vehicle owned by indigenous groups under the chairmanship of businessman James Makamba.
Telecel Zimbabwe’s 15-year licence expired in June last year and was renewed after it promised the Zimbabwean government that it would abide by the country’s indigenisation law, which states that foreign companies should cede 51% of ownership to black Zimbabweans.
“We are delighted with the progress of the restructuring negotiations which we are conducting with our long-time partner in Telecel Zimbabwe, Empowerment Corporation. This will put the company on a solid footing to continue to provide extraordinary service to Zimbabweans while continuing our compliance with Zimbabwean foreign ownership requirements,” Swaim said.