ZIMBABWE – NetOne, a Zimbabwe’s state-owned mobile network operator, is looking to leverage its franchise programme as part of its turnaround strategy.

According to the firm, the programme has generated US$200 million since its launch over a year ago.

The NetOne’s franchise model equips existing private urban shops, rural shops and growth points with the company’s consumables and branding.

The company’s chief executive officer Lazarus Muchenje said to enable the programme, the company divided the country into five operating regions or zones and appointed managers to work with brand ambassadors in each region.

“These appointed managers have captains and brand ambassadors at the communal level who know how best to provide a service for people in that specific zone,” said Muchenje.

There are currently 1,500 franchise outlets – a significant increase from just 34 in 2018.

The telecoms firm is now focused on improving network availability and realigning available infrastructure said Muchenje.

It has redeployed some of its 4G infrastructure to urban and semi-urban areas in order to reduce congestion on the network and this has led to an improvement in data speed.

It has also improved capacity utilisation of the already existing infrastructure as opposed to having a 4G network in areas where there is a low demand for that service.

Muchenje said to grow, the company focused on four key pillars: quality network, quality distribution, quality contact centre and a quality balance sheet all intended to form an efficient business.

“NetOne has been making strides in terms of transition to a sound organisation, and we set out to clean up what we could, improve what we could. We are out of loss-making, back to profitability.”

According to the regulator’s latest report, NetOne recorded an 11% increase in the number of active subscribers, from 2.7 million in Q2 to 3 million in Q3.

NetOne was the first cellular network operator in Zimbabwe based on the Global System for Mobile Communications. The company was originally launched during the World Solar Summit in September 1996 in the capital Harare with 2000 lines.