Econet lands Papua New Guinea contract

Godfrey Marawanyika

ECONET Wireless International (EWI) has scooped yet another international tender, this time for the installation of a GSM system in Papua New Guinea, worth US$50 million.



The new contract means EWI is now operating in nine countries.


This is the first time that the company has won a major contract in the Pacific island in south east Asia.


EWI chief executive officer Strive Masiyiwa confirmed to businessdigest that they had landed the tender.


“We recently won a tender in Papua New Guinea to install a GSM system in that country. The contract is worth US$50 million,” Masiyiwa said. “What we have decided to do as a company is to develop two or three new projects every year.”


Papua New Guinea has a population of four million.


EWI has a presence in South Africa, Lesotho, Nigeria, Morocco, Botswana, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and France.


Last week the Communications Commission of Kenya which won its case against one of the losing bidders in the third licence wrangle, pledged to issue EWI an operating licence.


EWI will get its Kenya licence in May.


Masiyiwa said after they had won the tender in Papua New Guinea, they had set their sights on the volatile Middle East.


He could not however disclose which countries they were eyeing.

Meanwhile EWI is locked in a legal wrangle with South Africa’s Vodacom over a takeover bid.


On Monday last week the company said it wanted to purchase the majority of shares in Econet Nigeria, raising the stakes in a battle for control of the second largest mobile phone firm in Africa’s most populous nation.


Econet Wireless, which is a founding partner and 5% shareholder in EWN, is fighting a bid by South Africa’s Vodacom to take over EWN, claiming pre-emptive rights to raise its equity stake.


The Paris-based International Court of Arbitration will now hear the case.

Last month EWN abandoned plans to sell its controlling stake to Vodacom, but said an alternative buyout was being negotiated between the parties.

The Malawian Privatisation Commission is also lobbying EWI to rebid its tender.


Initially EWI had won the tender but pulled out of the race to acquire a stake in Malawi Telecomms.


Analysts said winning the tender in PNG was a major step in EWI’s global expansion drive.