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Vol 51 No 11

Published 28th May 2010


The fight for cellphones

Amid local trade wars, Vodacom-Congo is feeling the pinch and contemplating pulling out of the DRC

Vodacom-Congo may be Congo-Kinshasa’s largest mobile telephone concern, with more than 4 million subscribers, although its rival Zain claims to have more. Vodacom’s internal battles are bigger still. Vodacom International owns 51% of the shares; Congo Wireless Network, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, owns 49%. They agree on little. Other conflicts divide CWN’s shareholders. Vodacom-Congo is feeling the pinch, and in mid-May the employment authority, the Inspection Générale du Travail, gave it leave to dismiss 11% of its workforce; it employs 500 people directly and perhaps ten times as many indirectly. That prospect upsets Labour Minister François-Joseph Nzanga Mobutu Ngbangawe (son of the late Joseph Mobutu Sese Seko) while the trades unions complain that the company has failed to produce the financial statements needed to justify the cuts.

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