In an interview with independent daily O Pais, Mozambique's Minister of Transport and Communications, Paulo Zucula, has urged the country's two mobile phone operators, mCel and Vodacom, to share their mobile phone masts in order to reduce costs, protect the landscape and ultimately enable increased coverage in remote areas.
Zucula commented: ‘The fact that each operator has its own infrastructure demands huge investment, which takes a long time to carry out. Furthermore, if we don't adopt this measure, we shall fill the country with redundant, unnecessary masts. It's a question of rationalisation’.
He indicated that both Vodacom and M-Cell are in favour of the idea, whilst conceding that financial disputes may yet cause a stumbling block: ‘I think that they're in favour. Sharing will allow better use to be made of their infrastructures, and so I doubt that they'll reject it. Since it's a business, problems could arise, but I think they agree with the principle’. He added that sharing infrastructures would make it easier for new operators to enter the market.
Three out of 22 interested parties were shortlisted to become Mozambique’s third mobile phone operator in July 2010. The three in question are TMN (the cellular unit of Portugal Telecom), UNI-Telecom (a joint venture between Angolan cellco Unitel and Mozambique’s Energy Capital) and a Vietnam-backed bidder named Movitel. The winner is expected to be announced in November. Mozambique is currently home to mCel with an estimated four million customers in June 2010 and Vodacom with 1.57 million at the same date. Wireless penetration stands at 25%, leaving plenty of room for growth.