James Myers, Zimbabwe Standard
March 3, 2013
THE new board chairman for Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, James Myers, has described the company 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 "10:1" 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.
Myers said that it was no longer true that the best companies came 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.
Myers took over the chairmanship of the telecoms group from Tawanda Nyambirai.
Myers said he was proud to take on the role as the new chairman, and spoke about the strengths of the Zimbabwean 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," 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 five years, it led the most remarkable roll out to ensure that every Zimbabwean can have a cellphone. We consider that a miracle and that is why the company is so highly respected worldwide," he said.
Looking to the future, 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.
"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."