Forex Crunch Hampers Econet’s Operations

ECONET Wireless Zimbabwe’s use of an outdated software resulted in contract line subscribers being migrated to the “Business Partna” package.


Because of foreign currency shortages, the software, which is responsible for the billing system and which has a lifespan of five years, was used for nearly 10 years.
Econet now require US$2,5 million for a new billing system, which would enable the company to revert to it old set-up.
Speaking to businessdigest, Econet chief executive Douglas Mboweni said after being advised that the system could not be repaired after passing its lifespan, the mobile telecommunications company had only two choices,  switch contract lines off completely, or put subscribers on the Buddie and Libertie platform.
“The billing system was collapsing, it meant all contract subscribers would be off air. We then decided to migrate them to Business Partna,” said Mboweni.
“The supplier had told us that they would not be able to provide any spares to keep the outdated equipment running and the solution was to purchase a new one. Shortage of foreign currency could not allow us to upgrade the software,” he said.
Mboweni said when they have money to improve the entire network they would “easily identify the contract subscribers and restore their status”.
He could not give a timeframe as to when the entire network would be improved as there  were other competing issues needing attention.
“We know we should have alerted the contract subscribers before the migration but the situation was beyond our control. We were throwing every resourse to the heart of the network which is the switch,” Mboweni said.
“We are dealing with an era of crisis. The work that we have done at the heart of the network is significant. What we have done here is a way of averting disaster, it is part of a journey but we have hit a hard patch,” he said.
Contract line user accounted for 5% or about 50 000 of total subscribers, while Buddie and Liberties platforms make up 95%.
Mboweni added that Econet had other activities more critical to the survival of the network that also require urgent attention and investment.
This means any new funding raised would not be deployed immediately into the acquisition of the new billion system given the Business Partna customers can be serviced on the pre-paid  platform.

 

By Paul Nyakazeya