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Kenya

Econet readies to roll out yu

NAIROBI, November 17 – Mobile phone subscribers can expect to play less for calls with the entry of Kenya\’s fourth player in the industry.

This is Econet Wirelesses\’ promise as it prepares to launch the new GSM network dubbed \’yu\’ by the end of November.

Econet CEO and Director of \’yu\’, Michael Foley said on Monday that the new brand was now all set to roll out next week and subscribers could expect to pay less for calls right across networks in the long run.

\’Yu\’ is committed to offering a reliable service by relentlessly pursuing innovative, reliable solutions with an uncompromising passion for excellence," said Mr Foley.

Local mobile telephony would not only benefit from more affordable calls, but a wide range of value added services and products said Marketing Director Anna Othoro who added that the \’yu\’ brand was going to be largely consumer based.  "We believe in delivering what we promise and we will strive to meet the consumer\’s needs"

The \’yu\’ team unveiled the brand to media houses and at the Capital Group Limited presentation, the company Chairman Chris Kirubi pointed out areas of major concern for subscribers that included charges across networks and better connectivity.  Mr Foley assured of better connectivity saying they have received support from the Communication Commission of Kenya and other industry players to ensure cheaper cross-network calls. 

The company now has a workforce totalling 200, and the network is already running and interconnectivity tests are underway.

Econet Wireless International is partly owned by Essar Global which holds 34.3 per cent of Econet Wireless Kenya. By buying into Econet, Essar injected capital for the roll out of the new mobile network operator.

Essar is a large Indian conglomerate that has interests in oil, energy, steel and telecommunications being the local partner of Vodafone in India with a valuation of $50 billion. They have strong interests in Africa and they are the investors that gave Econet the impetus and the tools to be able to roll out. 

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"Essar came in on December 23rd 2007, invested in the country, on then 27th there was the election and things went haywire for about three months but we maintained our interest in the investment," said Mr Foley.

"In April to May things were on course again and by June key personnel were in place and basically in five months we\’ve wrapped up the business to launch; an accomplishment that the company is proud of," explained Mr Foley.

The Econet – Essar partnership already has a business team looking at other markets where they intend to launch \’yu\’ with the regional office for Africa being operated from Nairobi.

Mr Foley has commended the government for supporting the entry of two large international investments in the telecommunication in a saying that is a good ending to a difficult year.

"As a representative of an international investor I can\’t find a better environment for investment, I think it\’s been a fantastic opportunity and things have worked out well for us," enthused Mr Foley  

Currently Econet Wireless International has presence in eight Africa countries, Europe and the East Asia pacific. The group has offices in Botswana, Burundi, Lesotho, Kenya, New Zealand Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK.

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