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Zimbabwe's TelOne counts cost of US$30-million owed

Zimbabwe's TelOne counts cost of US-million owed

Zimbabwe fixed phone operator TelOne is struggling to recover approximately US$30-million owed by government departments and parastatals in unpaid bills.

The company is owed RTGS$101-million, equivalent to approximately US$30-million based on Zimbabwe's official exchange rate.

TelOne managing director Chipo Mtasa confirmed the situation was impacting on the company's capital expenditure position.

According to state media reports the company is carrying legacy debt of US$383-million on its books and speaking in parliament recently, Mtasa said recovery of the money would help the company meet its immediate capital expenditure requirements.

"The issue that will really help us is government paying its debts to TelOne. It is an issue that continuously plays havoc with our cash flows... right now the total that we are being owed by government and parastatals is RTGS$101 million," said Mtasa.

Treasury officials said the company's legacy debt and its failure to retrieve unpaid debt were of major concern to investors who have approached government to participate in the commercialisation bid for TelOne.

State media reports show that the company owes international creditors including such as Eksportfinas of Norway, Eximbank of Japan, BNP of France, Overseas Economic Cooperation and the African Development Bank, among others.

TelOne is one of three state-owned telecommunication companies in which the government of Zimbabwe has majority control. The others include mobile firms NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe, as well as internet service company Africom.

The country's Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube continues to push for privatisation of these firms.

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