ECONET Wireless this week said it has so far spent about US$30 million on its new mobile cellular project in Kenya, which the company expects to launch before the end of the year.
Zachary Wazara, Econet executive director in charge of the Kenyan project, said the funds have been spent on paying the licence fee and purchasing network equipment.
Wazara said core network infrastructure is already under manufacture and contracts for other network subsystems were in place.
In addition, the company has deployed a core team of highly-experienced experts in such fields as network construction and development, sales and marketing, customer service and information technology which are working on the network rollout.
“The team, which we have on the ground, is a special network launch team, which has built networks in several other parts of Africa, and we are therefore confident about being able to build a robust, high quality network here in Kenya,” he said.
“There is a lot of preparatory groundwork which has to be done before customers get connected to any network. The team has done an incredible amount of work including identification of sites for base stations, putting together the distribution infrastructure of dealers and retailers as well as its administrative processes,” said Wazara.
“The next pillar in our rollout programme is the recruitment of staff. This will commence next week with the launch of a series of adverts, which will address EWK’s human resource requirements for virtually every area of its field.
“Except for a few core experts, all the other staff which Econet require will come from local Kenyans thereby contributing significantly towards the national employment and job creation. We want to allow ourselves a lot of time for customer service training for our dealers and staff to ensure that the Econet standards are met,” he said.
Wazara said EWK would be very thorough in its preparations to ensure that customers would not be disappointed when the network is commissioned.
Econet has successfully launched and operated telecommunications operations in a number of countries among them Botswana, Lesotho, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Through Mascom Wireless, Econet is the largest mobile network in Botswana where the company has achieved the highest penetration rates ever recorded in Africa.
The Botswana network was launched in 1998 barely six months after the company was awarded a 15-year licence.
In Zimbabwe, Econet is also the largest mobile network operator with a market share of over 51% having been launched two years after the other two competitors. In spite of the rough economic and political conditions which have characterised that nation for the past four years, Econet Zimbabwe has remained highly profitable and continues to grow.
The company has a 5% stake in Econet Wireless Nigeria, which is that country’s second largest mobile operator based on subscriber numbers now exceeding two million. The current arbitration proceedings in that country relate to a dispute over the recognition of Econet’s pre-emptive rights in the company.
Econet also runs an operation in Britain which is providing satellite and data access for operators in 61 countries and over 400 networks worldwide. It also has a fixed and mobile telecommunication operation in Lesotho, run together with South Africa’s Eskom Enterprises.