Zim reaps benefits of infrastructure sharing

HARARE - Government says it has begun to reap fruits of infrastructure sharing among the country’s three major mobile network operators, with studies indicating increased costs reduction.

This comes at a time government, through the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), is leading the way in implementing infrastructure sharing by constructing model base stations in different parts of the country.

Infrastructure sharing is expected to eliminate unnecessary duplication of telecommunication infrastructure, which increases costs on the side of the service provider

ICT minister Kazembe Kazembe said apart from providing wider consumer choice and enhanced service based competition, which in turn promotes creativity and innovation, infrastructure sharing significantly brings down both capital expenditure and operating expenditure cost barriers to participating operators.

“Through extensive studies, it is now a well-established fact that through infrastructure sharing, operators realise between 16 percent and 35 percent cost reduction,” he said while officially unveiling a Pumula base station in Tsholotsho on Friday.

He added that such initiatives as the MORAN project are a prerequisite for Zimbabwe given the full socio-economic context within which networks are deployed and operated.

“It is our fervent hope that through such initiatives our operators learn and continue to appreciate he tenets and benefits of infrastructure sharing,” Kazembe said.

The Zanu PF legislator, however, urged Potraz to use both carrot and stick in ensuring that the policy of infrastructure sharing is fully implemented and that the regulations are complied with.

He further indicated that the regulator should accelerate projects similar to the Pumula base station as part of the broader initiative to connect the unconnected parts of the country to ICTs.

The project funded by the Universal Services Fund (USF) is the third such facility to be unveiled in the Matabeleland region by Potraz as part of its mission to reach the desired 87 percent geographical coverage which would translate to 99 percent population coverage.

“It is self-evident that such projects bring about affordable communication services to the generality of our population. With affordability comes higher usage and ultimately enhanced cross sectors ICT integration, utility and innovation,” he said.

The minister said despite the challenges which come with implementing such a big ambitious project, government was not giving up yet.

“Given the foregoing, our pledge to the nation is that as a sector, we shall not rest until the legacy objectives of connecting the unconnected, bridging the digital divide, mitigating the dearth of digital awareness, education and requisite skills set as well as mitigating the apparently widening affordability gaps are fully met,” Kazembe said.

 

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