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Data and optimised CRM balances out loss in earnings for Econet

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Zimbabwe , 02 Dec 2020

Data now contributes nearly a third of earnings for Econet Wireless, and 28% to the company’s overall revenue.

Although revenue for the half year to the end of August of ZWL10.1-billion is down from the ZWL10.8-billion for the same period last year, Econet has seen its data capacity balance out the loss occasioned by economic difficulties and COVID-19 disruptions.

ZWL10-billion is equivalent to approximately US$123.4 million at the average 1:81 official auction exchange rate in Zimbabwe.

While limited access to foreign currency remains a challenge for telecommunication companies in Zimbabwe, Econet says there has been a slight improvement in the situation since the introduction of the auction exchange rate earlier this year.

“During the period under review the contribution from our data services to total revenue increased by 3 percentage points, from 25% to 28%,” said Econet chairman, James Myers. “The strategy of driving digital adoption to enhance customer convenience resulted in the growth of our digital customer management platforms.”

In line with this and as a response to COVID-19 outbreak, the company’s Facebook, Twitter, Web Chat and WhatsApp platforms are now handling 75% of total customer interactions and helping to decongest its customer service outlets.

“We have shifted the way we work and operate our business to adapt to the physical distancing requirements that came into effect as part of national efforts to contain the spread of the virus. In place of our physical contact centres we had to develop remote communication and sales channels for our customers,” Myers added.

Power outages

For telecommunication companies, power outages are also a challenge and impact operations, specifically the ability to provide uninterrupted service and ensure service quality.

Companies are now investing in hybrid batteries, solar and diesel generators to help address the problem.

A consulting engineer, who requested to remain anonymous, and who is working with two telecommunication companies to migrate some operations off the nation grid, said: “There has been an improvement in power supply compared to last year, but long term investment commitments to alternative power sources have already been rolled out across the industry.”

He added: “Some sites, including base stations are now off-grid and it’s also a cost containment measure that when aggregated, helps reduce working capital costs for a small period. Off-grid is the next milestone for Zimbabwe telecom companies as they will be able to control costs and guarantee uninterrupted supply of power for their operations.”

Econet’s effort to reduce reliance on the national grid is being managed by alternative power solutions firm Distributed Power Africa.

The telecommunications company expects additional capacity of up to 18MW of power to be available by the end of the year.

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