Written by EABW REPORTER Saturday, 14 December 2009
BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI: Burundi mobile operator Econet Wireless now targets to increase its clientele from the current 80,000 to 800,000 following the launching of the a new rechargeable solar handset. Econet, a subsidiary of South Africa-based Econet Wireless International, has attracted 80,000 users since April and aims to have 100,000 signed up by the end of the year 2009.
The African nation of 8 million people saw its subscriber base grow by 78% to 480,000 users in 2008. Burundi's telecom regulator estimates the number of customers could reach 700,000 by 2012. Although the Econet general manager Darlington Mandivenga did not give a time frame for his projection, due to the power shortages experienced in Bujumbura the company is likely to get more clients using the rechargeable solar handset.
The current power demand in the landlocked country is currently 45 MW against the installed capacity of 32 MW which causes frequent blackouts and the deficit reaches 25 MW during peak hours, according to the energy ministry. The handsets with Sim cards are sold with an insert of the customer bill of rights – a first in East Africa - which is designed to ensure that Customers are guaranteed quality service and have a re-course of a refund. Mandivenga told a news conference that the handset would prove invaluable for many users in a country that suffers frequent power shortages."If you look at the target market or the level of demand that is there, without doing any further marketing it is about 800,000 people who will benefit from this innovation