NetOne has received four inquiries from large foreign telcos including Bharti Airtel and South Africa’s MTN. NetOne is looking to sell a 60 percent stake to the highest bidder.
NetOne, which has been facing financial troubles of late, was seeking permission from the Zimbabwe government to allow stake sale to foreign entities to boost its revenues. According to estimates, NetOne may need an annual investment of $100 million to aid in its 3G rollout and other expansion plans.
In May this year, Bharti Airtel said that it planned to invest $1 billion to expand its operations to 16 countries in Africa. Recently it has hired Huawei, Ericsson, IBM and Comviva to aid in its Africa expansion.
Africa is becoming hot telecom market for 3G services. While currently only Safaricom has a 3G network in Kenya, Orange is also testing its network. Azerbaijan in South Africa is likely to award two 3G licenses to Bakcell and Azercell, stepping up competition to Azerfon in the region.
According to a quote in a recent publication, Ali Abbasov, spokesperson for the South Africa ICT Ministry, “In the next few days, weeks, months we will provide the mobile operators with corresponding license for rendering 3G services. Everything depends on operators themselves, the sooner they solve technical issues the sooner they will get the license.”
South Africa has three GSM operators, and one CDMA operator. At the end of March 2011, there were over 8.3 million subscribers in the country – showing a mobile subscriber penetration level of 99 percent.