Zimbabwe: Potraz Launches Rural telecommunication Project

Telecoms

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe will spend US$10 million on the installation of passive telecommunication infrastructure in rural areas. Passive telecommunication infrastructure refers to shared support infrastructure for the provision of Information Communication Technologies.

It consists of towers, power back-up and equipment rooms, among other equipment. The funds are part of US$24 million under the Universal Services Fund's Connecting Rural Communities project aimed at promoting development of telecommunication services in rural areas.

Potraz director-general Engineer Charles Sibanda said the project was expected to cost US$10 million. "The project is still at the tendering stage," he said. "It is also operating in phases and the first part should be complete by the end of the second quarter. All licensed operators are, under the obligation of their licences, to provide quality service irrespective of areas of service."

Telecommunication companies pay a levy of 2 percent of their gross income to Potraz which is then allocated to all licensed operators to expand their services. Potraz can also boost the funds through money appropriated by an Act of Parliament for purposes of the fund and surpluses at the end of each financial year. In his Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review last year, Finance Minister Tendai Biti revealed Potraz had a total of US$21 021 228 available under the Universal Services Fund.

Since the establishment of USF through subsection (1) of Section 73 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act (Chapter 12:05), the fund has not contributed significantly towards developing remote areas. Potraz has since floated tenders seeking bids from qualified civil and structural engineers to design and install the infrastructure on its behalf.