Golden Sibanda : Senior Business Reporter
TELONE will soon start drawing down on the $98 million loan from China Export and Import Bank after completing a revalidation exercise of areas to which the funds will be deployed. Managing director Chipo Mutasa in an interview said that there was need to revalidate the loan facility to see if conditions which applied in 2014 were still the same.Revalidation was meant to ensure the company avoids duplication of works with fellow State owned mobile telecommunications company, NetOne.
For instance, Mrs Mutasa said, TelOne would deploy much of the funds towards the company’s broadband project while NetOne would focus more on wireless network access projects.
“The loan was between the Government of Zimbabwe and China Eximbank. The Government of Zimbabwe needed to do a separate loan agreement with us for on-lending,” she said.
The process for the loan agreement went through Parliament. Other than that, TelOne had to open special bank accounts to the satisfaction of China Eximbank.
“China Eximbank had to come over to understand the situation on the ground.
“Even while we were doing that, we also had to revalidate the scope of the loan, to determine whether what we had in 2014 is still valid in 2016,” she said.
“In some aspects we had to take away possible duplication between us and NetOne. We had to agree that this is under NetOne and that will be done by TelOne,” Mrs Mutasa said.
On growth in fixed mobile subscribers, Mrs Mutasa said globally, subscribers now prefer mobility, which has resulted in huge migration from fixed lines to mobile phone.
“So in terms of the fixed business, we now want to expand the value proposition so that it is not just about voice, which are known for, but to expand to allow for broadband capacity and even to allow for quad play services,” she said.
Earlier, the TelOne MD had said part of the loan would be used to upgrade the company’s technology, which is outdated.
Apart from the backbone and broadband expansion projects to be funded from the $98 million loan, TelOne has used own resources to fund projects, including the Wi-Fi hotspots, Mucheke-Murewa fibre optic link and POTRAZ Ku-Band.
It has also done fibre to home project in Harare’s Avenues flats, Bloomingdale, FBC garden flats, Dawnview and Diamond Villa flats. A total of $2,7 million was spent on the projects.
Mrs Mutasa said the “old type technology”, which TelOne is phasing out, was not able to adapt to the latest innovative products that offer access to services such as voice, video and internet.