It can only happen in Zimbabwe, the land of both misery and opportunities. While most people are suffering, some are laughing all the way to their banks. While companies are closing down, some are making hefty profits, unheard of elsewhere.
High demand for products in the telecommunications industry, which has seen lines for cellular phones selling for as much as $800 000 on the open market, saw net profit for newly listed telecommunications company, Celsys, shoot up by 2340 percent from $313.9 million in July last year to $7.7 billion in July this year.
The company made a net profit of only $44.4 million in 2001 and $3.4 million in 2000.
The company, which was listed in April this year, says demand for products outstripped supply. It had therefore aggressively pursed opportunities that had arisen in the sector, developing new divisions and expanding existing ones.
Its sales rose from $908.9 million to $10.3 billion with 80 percent of the sales being realised in the second half.
The company says sales for its communications division, Celsys Comms, soared after it was listed because it had access to borrowed funds.
It had entered into agreements with Pelhams, Edgars, Express, OK and Bon Marche to establish 24 additional in-store outlets. This will bring the number of outlets which distribute handsets to over 60.
The company, which sells its products on credit said bad debts had improved to less than 1 percent of sales.
It says Econet Wireless had informed it on 6 August that it was terminating its bulk supply agreement entered into in November 2001 but the company had notified Econet that the termination was invalid. It, however, notes that airtime from this agreement now contributes less than 1 percent of its profit.
Volumes at Celsys print had increased by 100 percent since July last year. The company was now discussing with networks in Eastern and Southern Africa to print and export recharge cards for them and prospects were promising.
The shortage of cash had also resulted in increased demand for cheque printing. The company says it had taken over the printing of cheques for an additional four banks and now controlled 75 percent of the market.
The community phone division, Celsys c-phone, the newest division has just sold over 300 public GSM phones. It has a full order book for the next six months and is already Celsys’s largest division.
The company says it has a potential to cater for 90 percent of the population that does not have access to telecommunications.