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Zimbabwe

Mobile phone use soars in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is experiencing a boom in mobile telecommunications following the formation of the power-sharing government there 19 months ago. Already around four per cent of the country's 12 million people are thought to own a cell phone line, up from nine per cent a year and a half ago.

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Zimbabwe’s cell phone culture has come a long way in just over a year; 20 months ago the worst thing about getting your cell phone stolen was that you'd lost the line.

Sim cards were scarce and cost up to 200 US dollars to replace. Now the telecommunications industry is booming: you can buy a Sim card for as little as one or two dollars in a supermarket.

Cell phone penetration is predicted to reach 11 million in two years’ time. That means almost everybody in this country of around 12 million people could have a line.

Econet, the biggest local cell phone company, said Sunday it had invested one billion US dollars in an aggressive expansion drive since 2008.

But foreign investors are still wary about partnering with Zimbabwean phone companies.

The state-run Net-One cellphone company is struggling to lure investors. Company Director Reward Kangai says investors want shares at knock-down prices because of lingering fears about doing business in politically-fragile Zimbabwe.

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