Zimbabwe 'to shut down' Telecel Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe 'to shut down' Telecel Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe plans to shut down Telecel Zimbabwe for allegedly operating without a licence and failing to comply with the country’s ownership laws.

The government’s cabinet has established a committee to begin the process to cancel its licence. 

The company is a local unit of Global Telecom Holdings, formerly Orascom, and controlled by VimpelCom. It has about 2.5 million subscribers in Zimbabwe. The company has operations in Algeria, Bangladesh and Pakistan. 

"The position of the ministry of ICT is that Telecel must cease operations because they have no licence is a position that has already been adopted by cabinet," said the country’s information and communication technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira.

According to Mandiwanzira, the decision was made after it was resolved that Telecel had breached its licence renewal payment and the country’s indigenisation laws. Zimbabwe’s empowerment laws require foreign-owned firms to cede 51% shareholding to locals. Telecel Globe, a subsidiary of Global Telecom Holdings, has a 60% stake in the company.

In 2013, Telecel failed to pay a $14 million instalment towards its licence, said the government of Zimbabwe. Mobile operators in the country were required to pay $137.5 million for licences over a 20-year period.

Mandiwanzira added that the government would also consider the plight of employees and subscribers who will be affected by the company’s closure. "Government will be guided by the fact that there are employees there and that there are subscribers who might be affected. But our position as the ICT ministry has not changed," he said.

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