Through its Your Fone payphone brand, Econet will roll-out at least 25 000 units over the next six months.

Econet has led the market in providing products, such as low-cost handsets, that lower the cost of telecommunications.

But Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO Mr Douglas Mboweni said even with such popular products, many Zimbabweans, especially in the rural areas, still cannot afford their own handsets.

"This is where this product comes in. As the country’s largest operator, we have an obligation to bridge that divide, and that is what Your Fone will achieve," Mr Mboweni said.

To allow the payphone system to run efficiently, Econet will introduce an innovative coin system designed to solve problems associated with the shortage of smaller denominations of foreign currency for change.

Extending coverage into rural areas has been a key part of Econet’s continuing network expansion.

Your Fone will allow the company to utilise this new capacity efficiently. It will also create significant employment opportunities for individuals and also generate income for micro-enterprises, Mr Mboweni said.

"We have a deliberate employment creation strategy, where we do not use automated payphones, making sure instead that each payphone has an operator.

"This means there are more opportunities for more of our people."