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Telecel Zimbabwe to lose its licence

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The Zimbabwe government is revoking the license of one of the country's cellphone operators claiming the firm has not done enough to expand its roster of local shareholders.

The move will further restrict communications in the troubled African country.

Telecel Zimbabwe company is 60 per cent owned by Orascom Telecom, based in Egypt, with the remaining 40 per cent owned by the Empowerment Corporation, a company set up to promote indigenous ownership. The Empowerment Corporation has the right to buy another 11 per cent of Telecel, but it doesn't have the money, so Telecel remains in majority foreign ownership.

There are reports that two local businessmen have bought 11 per cent of the company, which should have resolved the problem, but the licence has still been revoked in what is seen as an attempt by Leo Mugabe (who happens to be the nephew of Zimbabwe pres Robert) to take over the firm.

The company's couple-of-hundred-thousand subscribers have no idea what's going on. They are hoping their connections might be taken on by the state-owned Net*One, if Telecel is required to switch off its network, but it's more likely they'll just be left disconnected.

With the country's electrical infrastructure failing network connections are increasingly unreliable, but with each temporary disconnection Telecel subscribers aren't sure they'll be reconnected again.

Getting a cellular connection in Zimbabwe isn't just a matter of signing a contract, so current customers are very worried they'll end up losing communications entirely.®

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