Econet world class: Myers
The new Chairman of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, Dr James Myers, has described Econet Wireless Zimbabwe as a world class operation that can stand “toe to toe” with operations from anywhere in the world.
The veteran American telecoms executive, who was once charged by the world’s largest telecoms operator AT&T to open up its market in Africa, was speaking after he chaired an Extraordinary General Meeting that unanimously approved a “ten: one” share split.
The share split is aimed at allowing small investors to buy Econet shares at a much cheaper price, thus enabling them to be exposed to the fastest growing telecommunications company in Zimbabwe, and also one of the largest in southern Africa.
Dr Myers said that it was no longer true that the best companies come from industrialised nations.
“National champions are rising up from developing countries, which have world class capability, and are taking on the world. Econet is one of those companies, and I have seen it come out of this country and become a world class group, and its business here is world class,” he said.
The Econet Wireless Zimbabwe chairman said he was proud to take on the role as the new chairman, and spoke easily about the strengths of the Zimbabwe company.
"When you are analysing a telecoms business, it is not about how big it is in comparison to its peers in countries like South Africa, but rather what we call key performance ratios. If you compare Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, it outperforms many of the leading players in Africa, in terms of factors like profitability, net income ratios, staffing ratios, as well as efficiency ratios on how it deploys capital and so on,” Dr Myers said.
“Econet Wireless Zimbabwe came from a situation in 2008 when it had its margins totally destroyed by the highest inflation in recorded history; penetration in Zimbabwe at 13% was the second lowest in Africa, but in less than 5 years, it led the most remarkable roll out to ensure that every Zimbabwean can have a cell phone. We consider that a miracle, and that is why the company is so highly respected worldwide,” he said.
Looking to the future, Dr Myers said the battle to get Zimbabweans connected for voice was now over, and that the next phase was ensuring every man, woman and child had access to the Internet. Dr Myers again praised Econet, saying: "The company is already well on track to ensuring that this happens within five years. We already have 3.1 million mobile Internet users on the network; there is no operator in Africa that can boast that level of 3G penetration of its population, not even in South Africa.”
The Econet Wireless Zimbabwe chairman said the company had an efficient governance structure, which allowed it to move quickly, and effectively to exploit market opportunities.
“The best way to measure governance is to look at results. You cannot produce excellent results, time and time again, produce ratios that are comparable to international peers, with bad governance. There is always room for improvement, and we are working on it,” he said.
He said that the execution on EcoCash was an excellent example of how effective Econet Wireless has become.
“Everyone in the industry worldwide is looking at the opportunity in mobile money transfer. Every operator in Africa has launched something, but until Econet came along, only M-PESA in Kenya, was known to have been a true success. But last year for the first time, EcoCash in Zimbabwe, yes in Zimbabwe, was recognised worldwide as the fastest growing mobile money service in Africa; that is remarkable! The reason this is able to happen is that you have very highly skilled people in Zimbabwe, who are being supervised by people who know what they are doing. I think all Zimbabweans should be very proud,” he said.