RECOVERING money from customers who owe TelOne is a challenge especially with households due to the obtaining harsh economic environment, an executive has said.
TelOne is owed $150 million by customers and has been running a series of campaigns such as giving customers an opportunity of having a repayment plan.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Southern African Telecommunications Association (SATA) workshop on telecommunications backhaul and submarine networks, TelOne managing director Chipo Mtasa said the debt had been reduced though she did not have the exact amount.
“Debt recovery is ongoing. We are still having a challenge with households and due to the economy and the liquidity challenges that we are facing,” she said.
Mtasa said the parastatal was collecting half of the money it is supposed to collect from debtors each month.
“We are collecting $7-$8 million per month instead of $15 million per month,” she said.
She said the move by government to remove the legacy debt of $369 million from the TelOne’s books would help the company in getting $98 million required for its various projects.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted in media reports saying he had requested China Export and Credit Insurance for a $98 million loan to TelOne for the expansion of fibre optic projects.
Treasury has also said it will take over the parastatal’s legacy debt.
Mtasa said the move will bring relief to the company that has been failing to access funding.
“This will clean our balance sheet so that we will be able to finance all our recapitalisation plans. We are seeking $98 million for now, but we need $150 million. We are in discussions with China Eximbank for the $98 million,” Mtasa said.
She said the money would be used for network replacement and fixed line network.
“We will begin the projects in 2015,” she said.
Speaking at the SATA event, executive secretary Jacob Munodawafa said the annual meeting would help the regional players in deliberating on the information communication technology sectors in the economy.
Munodawafa said the region now has more cables since 2006 when it had two cables that were connected through satellite.
Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe acting director general Alfred Marisa said the regional players needed to discuss on high data cost especially locally where people always question why data costs are higher than elsewhere in the region.
“It’s an issue that we have to address, it has to escalate to policy level. Truly the issue is rural people are denied access because service is there, but it is not affordable,” he said.
Information communication technology contributes 15,2% to Zimbabwe’s GDP.