'Prioritise ICTs on foreign currency access'

HARARE - The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has appealed to be “notched up the priority list” by policy makers to access foreign currency for the effective network expansion, upgrades and maintenance.

Potraz director-general Gift Machengete on Monday told delegates during the unveiling of the Maitengwe base station in Matabeleland South Province that the shortage of foreign currency was stifling the much-needed fast growth in the ICT sector.

“To the policy makers I would like, on behalf of sector players, to thank you for setting visionary policies and regulations,” Machengete said.

“In the context of this event, we thank you for the new ICT policy, the infrastructure sharing policy and the attendant regulations. As we aim at and make giant strides towards 100 percent population coverage in Zimbabwe, we seek your assistance in securing the reprioritisation of the sector in the allocation of foreign currency by the authorities,” he said.

The Potraz boss said as a technology-driven sector, the ICT sector relies heavily on foreign currency resources for network expansion, upgrades and maintenance.

“The Internet and international bandwidth also require a stable supply of foreign currency. While we fully appreciate the difficulty that Zimbabwe is going through, we was, however, convinced that the sector can and should be notched up the priority list so that networks can be sustainable and consumers can continue to enjoy reasonable service quality and that ours remains a competitive ICT market in the region.”

Machengete further noted that the shortage of foreign currency in the country has had a huge impact on connectivity, particularly to marginalised areas.

“The need for network expansion to unserved regions and communities can never be overstated.

“In order to appreciate that ICTs are indispensable to everyday life — one needs to spend a day or two in an area where there is no network coverage,” he said.

“In summary, without requisite foreign currency resources, network growth and functionality grind to a halt, quality of service cannot be guaranteed, regulation is rendered dysfunctional and ultimately consumers and the economy at large suffer irreparable damage.”

He also noted that while only 15 percent of the country’s total population is yet to be connected, it was also crucial to ensure that service providers consider affordability to consumers in general and bottom of the pyramid consumers, in particular.

Comments (1)

Food and fuel first!

citizen - 25 July 2018

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