Econet Wireless Zimbabwe says that it has started receiving shipment of equipment worth US$200 million from Sweden and China which, when installed, will avert the shortages of lines. The consignment, comprising base station and core network equipment, is expected to be fully installed by the end of the month.
Econet, which uses two suppliers for its network in Zimbabwe after splitting its service area into a northern region being fitted out by Ericsson and a southern regions being supplied by ZTE.
Econet chief executive Mr Douglas Mboweni confirmed the arrival of the equipment. "We have been waiting for the arrival of these shipments because as you know it takes quite some time for a company like Ericsson to manufacture this type of equipment once they receive an order."
Mr Mboweni described the shipment as only the first part of the shipments that are due in the next few months.
"This equipment is less than 15 percent of what we have in the pipeline, because we are working towards taking the network to 5 million subscribers by the end of next year," he said.
Equipment for the southern region, which is supplied by ZTE has also begun to arrive along with Chinese construction contractors who are responsible for installation. The bulk of the US$94 million order from China is expected to arrive before the end of July, with installation taking up to the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Mr Mboweni said efforts to clear the backlog of pre-paid lines were now at an advanced stage.
Econet is currently selling more than 30,000 PrePay lines per week, while contract lines are available on demand.
He said queues were gradually beginning to disappear outside Econet shops and that the black market had also collapsed.
Mr Mboweni said his company was confident that shortage of lines was now a thing of the past. "By the end of next month, it will be possible to buy a Buddie line without having to queue," he added.