Swedish loan expands Zimbabwe’s mobile net

Zimbabwe's largest mobile operator, Econet Wireless, has secured a $60-million loan facility from Swedish export credit agency EKN to expand its infrastructure, the firm said Wednesday.

The loan would see Swedish telecoms equipment supplier Ericsson installing additional equipment to expand Econet’s infrastructure in the capital Harare, the company’s largest subscriber base.

Econet chief executive officer Douglas Mboweni said the facility would be used to buy equipment to improve efficiency in Harare.

“Our customers in Harare are increasingly buying mobile phones, and this means we require more capacity and capability on the network,” Mboweni said in a statement.

Zimbabwe’s mobile phone penetration is around 40 percent, according to industry estimates, with Econet claiming four million subscribers in a nation of about 12 million people.

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Ericsson suspends all Russia operations indefinitely

Swedish network equipment maker Ericsson said Monday that it was suspending all of its Russian operations over the war in Ukraine for the foreseeable future.

Ericsson suspends all Russia operations indefinitely

The telecom giant already announced in late February that it would stop all deliveries to Russia following Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

“In the light of recent events and of European Union sanctions, the company will now suspend its affected business with customers in Russia indefinitely,” Ericsson said in a statement.

The company added that it was “engaging with customers and partners regarding the indefinite suspension of the affected business.”

“The priority is to focus on the safety and well-being of Ericsson employees in Russia and they will be placed on paid leave,” it said.

READ ALSO: How has Sweden responded to Putin’s war in Ukraine so far?

Hundreds of Western firms ranging from Ikea to Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs and McDonald’s have stopped operations in the country since the invasion, with French banking group Societe Generale announcing Monday it was selling its stake in Russia’s Rosbank.

Ericsson has around 600 employees in Russia, and is a “major supplier to the largest operator MTS and the fourth largest operator Tele2,” a company spokeswoman told AFP, adding that together with Ukraine, Russia accounts for less than two percent of revenue.

As a result, the equipment maker said it would record a provision for 900 million Swedish kronor ($95 million, 87 million euros) for the first quarter of 2022 for “impairment of assets and other exceptional costs,” though no staff redundancy costs were included.
Ericsson is due to publish its first quarter earnings on April 14.