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Profitability Returns Econet’s Glory Days

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Zimbabwe’s largest mobile telecoms firm, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, chairman Dr James Myers says the group’s revenue grew by 23 percent to $35 billion, compared to the same period last year, largely due to the increase in data usage, which increased by 47 percent.In the period under review, Econet embarked on several initiatives to support the growth in data traffic and increased LTE/4G data speeds by 50 percent, commissioning 12 new LTE sites countrywide and accessing additional 3G spectrum under the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) Covid-19 relief programme.

“Improving operational efficiencies and continued cost containment measures yielded positive results which saw the earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization margin increase to 52 percent. Net exchange losses decreased by 46 percent to close the year at $13,7 billion,” he said.

Econet posted $837 million profit in the full year to February 28, 2021 compared to a $5,7 billion loss in the previous  period last year. The firm’s latest financial results show that the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed bluechip counter has continued to perform well in an extremely challenging environment. The country experienced acute power and foreign shortages, and high inflation for the better part of last year.

“Improving operational efficiencies and continued cost containment measures yielded positive results which saw the earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization margin increase to 52 percent. Net exchange losses decreased by 46 percent to close the year at $13,7 billion,” he said.

Dr Myers added that capital expenditure investment remains subdued due to the scarcity of foreign currency. “Our earnings per share increased from a loss of 237 cents per share to positive earnings per share of 35 cents. Our cash flow remains positive and we continue to manage cash positions prudently in light of the challenging operating environment. Our balance sheet is bolstered by our investment of about 7 percent of Liquid Telecommunications Jersey (LTJ), a pan-African fibre operator, which is now valued at US$145 million,” he said.

Dr Myers said the company also facilitated the import of low-cost data-capable handsets to ensure data connectivity is accessible across all sectors of society. “Our vision is to create a new digital future that leaves no Zimbabwean behind. “We will do this by providing a seamless digital experience to all our customers. By extending our network to cover areas that are not served, we will assist in bridging the digital divide.

“Our strategy is anchored on our well-developed digital platforms and highly adaptable skills base in mobile and digital technology,” he said. In line with Econet’s transformational journey, the group continued to innovate and introduce channels for digital customer support to accelerate customer query resolution and reduce dependence on brick and mortar infrastructure.

Ross Moyo

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