Econet Buys Back Mascom Wireless Of Botswana For $300 Million

In the late nineties Zimbabwean businessman, Strive Masiyiwa had difficulties securing a license to operate a mobile network in Zimbabwe, so he launched his network, Mascom Wireless in Botswana.

Masiyiwa sold off 14% of Mascom in 2004 disregarding the discontent from the minority shareholders, Econet Wireless. He then sold 44% of the business to telecoms giant, MTN the following year and walked away from the company.

MTN recently announced that it had decided to let Mascom go because of some complications that resulted in the powerhouse mobile operator not being allowed to put its branding on Mascom and fully control its operations as the control had been given to Portuguese Telecoms.

MTN said that it would be disposing of Mascom Botswana for $300 million.

MTN CEO, Rob Shutter also announced that it would be selling a number of its other business units throughout the continent and beyond. They sold their Cyprus operation for $294 million last year. He added that MTN was also selling the e-commerce giant Jumia Technologies of Nigeria.

Shutter explained that MTN is simplifying the group, reducing risk, and trying to improve returns.

Econet International (which was already a minority shareholder) has been named as the buyer of the 53% stake.

Industry insiders have seen this as a good move by Econet because it will diversify its markets beyond Zimbabwe and leverage its presence across borders to offer value-added services.

Mascom has more than 50% of Botswana’s market share, boasting 1.7 million subscribers.

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is the first and largest mobile service provider in Zimbabwe. The telecoms operator has established branches in all corners of the country.

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