THE pan-African telecommunications group, Econet Wireless, has acquired a controlling interest in ST Cellular SA, one of the four licensed operators in Burundi and has embarked on a major programme to expand the mobile network and increase the subscriber base
to at least 200 000 over the next few years.
The planned network expansion will probably be one of the single largest foreign direct investments in Burundi whose government has appealed to foreign investors to help in the country’s economic development to underpin peace efforts in the country.
Econet executive director, Zachary Wazara, said in a statement that the group has already deployed key technical, marketing and sales and finance staff to assist in the expansion of the company, to be re-branded Econet Wireless Burundi, and make it the dominant telecommunications company in Burundi.
“The expansion of the network will not only result in more customers being added to the network, but also result in new innovative and uniquely branded products and services being introduced in Burundi. Our investment will also open further direct job-creating opportunities as well as many in related downstream industries and service sectors in the country,” Wazara said.
He said Econet considers Burundi, with a population of about seven million, to be of considerable potential, given the very low tele-density in the country.
“The investment in Burundi is part of our expansion strategy to invest and grow in targeted emerging markets in Africa and beyond and we identified Burundi as one such market that will benefit from our investment in telecommunications.
“Econet has a record of aggressive roll-out, marketing, introduction of uniquely branded products and services and improvement of international links for both direct dialing and roaming in all the markets that we have entered, and naturally Burundi will be no exception,” Wazara said.
Wazara said significant resources have already been earmarked towards human resources development and training to equip staff at the company with international skills to enable them to offer a superior service to customers.
In order to cater for the planned expansion, additional staff will be recruited in Burundi to cover all areas of the business, followed by some intensive training ahead of the re-launch.
He said Econet appreciated the warm reception and support the company has received from the relevant authorities in Burundi who have demonstrated their willingness to partner with investors to develop the country. — Own Correspondent.