July 22, 2011 / 1:22 PM / 6 years ago

Burundi operator says mobile subscribers soar

BUJUMBURA (Reuters) - Econet Burundi's mobile phone subscribers rose by 140 percent to 600,000 in July year-on-year, the operator said, thanks to rapid growth in the expansion of the network's coverage and better technology.

"Econet covers now all the 17 provinces of Burundi ... (including) in very remote places of the country," Econet Chief Executive Darlington Mandivenga told reporters on Thursday.

Econet, a subsidiary of South Africa- based Econet Wireless International, also launched its first broadband service, enabling customers to have access to a high-speed internet connection on mobile phones, laptops and other broadband-compliant devices.

Mandivenga said the firm's investment in 3G technology with satellite back-up had cost over $10 million.

Other mobile phone firms working in the landlocked, coffee-producing country of 8 million people are market leader U-com, owned by Egypt's Orascom, state-owned ONAMOB, Africell owned by VTL Holdings of Dubai and Lacell SU from Nepal.

The number of mobile phone users in Burundi reached 1, 665,999 in 2010, up 55 percent from the year before, according to the country's telecom regulator.

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