Executives from Econet Wireless New Zealand which wants to be that country’s third mobile phone operator are in South Africa putting together a funding plan to get the network off the ground.
Econet Wireless NZ, an offshoot of the Econet Wireless group which has operations in southern Africa and Britain, bought cellular spectrum in auctions in 2001 for NZ$13.2 million, and wants to build a nationwide network using GSM technology, but has been unable to raise funds.
It put off all contractors, totalling about 20 at peak, at the end of December and only a handful of staff remain in its Auckland office.
The parent company is understood to be planning a float, possibly on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, in a bid to raise substantial funding for the whole group.
Chairman Bill Osborne expressed full confidence in the company. The network Econet is initially planning to build uses second-generation spectrum that Econet picked up in the auction.
It is understood that even if a contractor contributed 100 per cent of the funds required to build the basic network, Econet would require many millions of dollars more to set up a viable business. So far, attempts to raise capital have failed.
Chief executive of Econet Wireless International (EWI), Strive Masiyiwa, said this month that the company was “very bullish this year. We are very confident. We will be digging deep in the markets where we are”.