Harare City Council Wants Rentals for Telecoms Infrastructure in Zimbabwe
In a move that is beginning to be mirrored across Africa, Harare City Council's environmental management committee has resolved that telecommunication companies should pay rent for cables and infrastructure they lay under municipal land.
This move will increase considerably the cost of laying basic fibre infrastructure and ultimately make it more expensive for end users. With national Governments already treating telecoms companies as “cash cows”, this move by local authorities will only increase the already heavy tax burden on the industry. You cannot simultaneously have cheap services and put high levels of taxation on the companies seeking to provide them
To date, 11,038 km have been approved for trenching across Harare, implying that should the committee resolution be adopted by the full council at its next meeting, council would be able to generate additional funding.
At its meeting on 1 March, the committee agreed that the city valuation and estates manager should determine the rentals."All private telecommunication companies pay a rental to be determined by city valuation and estates manager for all infrastructure lying under council land," reads part of the committee minutes.
Following confusion in the approval of applications for trenching and laying out of telecommunication cables, the committee headed by Councillor Herbert Gomba, agreed that the urban planning services and engineering departments should jointly process the applications.
The resolutions by the committee are, however, subject to the concurrence of the finance and development committee. The committee agreed that any company that digs a trench across a road should pay US$300 for every 30 metres, while trenching along road servitudes will attract a fee of US$150 for every 300 metres. Penalties for illegal trenching along road servitudes would be US$1,050 for every 300m and US$1,800 for trenching across a road.
The committee resolved that Econet Wireless and other private companies should regularise all trenching activities with council waiving regularisation penalties. From now on, all companies will be asked to pay US$230 as basic application fees to trench and will be charged US$50 per km for the first 5km. US$30 would be charged per km for the next 5km and there after charges would be US$20 per km.