Govt can license more mobile network operators

HARARE - Zimbabwe still has the capacity to licence new players in the mobile telephone service industry, a Cabinet minister has said.

Speaking at the sidelines of the e-Tech Exhibition 2012 in the capital yesterday, Information Communication Technology (ICT) minister, Nelson Chamisa said what determines the licensing of licences in the industry is the demand on the ground.

“Government has capacity to license new players; demand is the element that determines capacity. Existing providers have not even saturated the market and there is room for more providers,” the ICT minister said.

Chamisa said with an 89 percent mobile phone penetration, the industry actually needed more service providers.

This comes after Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Nicholas Goche’s assertion that government has resolved not to license new mobile telephone services on the grounds of industrial congestion.

According to Goche, there is a 90 percent teledensity and government feels three are enough.

Zimbabwe, with an estimated population of 14 million, has more than 10 million active mobile phone subscribers on the three network platforms.

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (Econet) has 6,4 million subscribers, Telecel Zimbabwe Private Limited (Telecel) has 2,3 million with the state-owned NetOne trailing behind with two million subscribers.

Chamisa advocated for more investment in the network infrastructure saying as long as demand was still high, capacity was there for the licensing of new companies.

The minister also said his ministry was in the middle of negotiations with the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority negotiating for a downward tariff review in the telecommunications industry.

He said the costing models were being interrogated to avoid pricing users out of the industry.

Chamisa also said the downward review was to be effected this year although he could not disclose dates.

“We are expecting a downward tariff review this year, this move is aimed at giving consumer value for the service being provided,” Chamisa said.

He said expansion in the industry had increased threshold and necessitated a downward review.

“Government’s initiatives like removal of import duties on hardware and most recently statutory instrument for the removal of duty on computer software have paved way for downward review of telecommunications tariffs,” said Chamisa.

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