Telecel Zimbabwe is planning to launch 4G LTE mobile services in the third quarter of this year, joining rival operators Econet Wireless and NetOne which introduced LTE technology in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The announcement was made by ICT minister Supa Mandiwanzira at an event organised by the government to promote the recently nationalised cellco.
The state agreed to acquire a 60% stake in Telecel from a subsidiary of Veon (formerly VimpelCom) in November 2015, though the deal was only finalised in January this year. Prior to the sale, Telecel had been in danger of losing its operating concession due to a row over licence fee payments. The uncertainty surrounding the licence and ownership led to a gradual weakening of the Telecel brand, with subscriber numbers falling steadily from a peak of around 2.6 million at the end of 2012 to an estimated 1.8 million currently.
A report from TechZim cites Mr Mandiwanzira as saying that the government injected USD5 million of capital into Telecel in January, as soon as the acquisition was completed. He also confirmed that the state is looking to increase its holding to 100% by buying out 40% shareholder Empowerment Corporation (EC), which is a consortium of local investors. The government is already the sole owner of rival player NetOne, as well as fixed line provider TelOne.