HARARE May 5 Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe's largest mobile phone operator, reported a 14.7 percent drop in annual profits on Monday, hit by higher financing costs and depreciation, but said it would pay its first dividend in three years.
Net profit fell to $119 million from $140 million in the year to end-February while earnings per share were flat at 0.08 cents, according to Econet's financial statement.
The company is currently repaying $228 million in debts to various international banks, the remainder of a loan used by the firm to expand its network in the last four years.
Econet, whose revenues were up 8 percent at $753 million during the period, said it would pay a dividend for the first time in three years.
Income from data rose 62 percent to $72.4 percent while mobile money revenue surged 307 percent to $33.4 million.
Nearly 800,000 new subscribers registered with the network during the year but this had little impact on revenue because the voice business had matured, Econet said.
"We had long anticipated it and had begun to invest heavily in new services. We are beginning to see the fruit of that work," Chief Executive Douglas Mboweni said.
Econet's shares closed up 3.97 percent at 64.50 cents, outpacing a 1.03 percent rise in the ZSE Industrial index . (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Greg Mahlich)