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Econet ups 5G ante, sees opportunities in emerging tech

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Zimbabwe , 31 May 2023
Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet.
Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet.

Econet Wireless has upped the ante in 5G infrastructure investments, as the mobile operator eyes opportunities in emerging technologies.

The mobile operator is deepening 5G coverage in Zimbabwe after adding 12 new base stations in the financial year ended February.

Zimbabwe’s biggest telecom company yesterday reported its performance for the 2023 financial year.

Founded by telecoms mogul Strive Masiyiwa, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is a subsidiary of Econet Group, a telecoms and technology group with operations and investments in 29 countries in Africa and Europe.

As the race to deploy 5G escalates across Africa, Econet Zimbabwe has increased network buildout investments.

5G is the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, which mobile operators began deploying worldwide in 2019.

In the case of Econet, the company is accelerating infrastructure deployment, and says its 5G and network modernisation rollout plan will increase access to newer technologies such as virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, ultra-high-definition video streaming, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence.

In the year, to meet the growing demand for both voice and data traffic, the mobile operator commissioned 80 new base stations providing additional coverage and capacity.

“We commenced the deployment of a new modern core network with new generation cloud capabilities. As part of this network modernisation effort, we also deployed state of the art data center infrastructure to ensure high availability of the network,” says James Myers, Econet chairman.

Turning to the regulatory environment, Econet says its efforts to provide quality services were continuously hampered by extensive loadshedding on the national power grid.

Myers comments: “For the period under review, load shedding averaged 18 hours a day. Consequently, the business resorted to alternative sources of energy to power the network. This significantly increased our cost of providing services to our customers.

“The business also experienced vandalism on our critical network infrastructure. To reduce vandalism on our network equipment, the business instituted various monitoring and deterrent measures to secure the various network elements that are being targeted.”

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