Zimbabwe’s second fixed telephony service provider, TeleAccess Global Corporation, continues to wade in troubled waters that have seen the continued deferment of its network launch. Initially set for June 1, the launch of the country’s second fixed line telephone network has been stalled amid speculation that there was growing impatience within the corridors of the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), the telecommunications sector’s regulatory body.

POTRAZ had given TeleAccess the June 1 deadline, which the latter missed, saying foreign currency constraints had made it difficult for the budding network to ship out its infrastructure. Daniel Shumba, TeleAccess founder and chief executive, told The Financial Gazette that the telecommunications company had experienced mounting problems in the procurement of the requisite equipment to get the network off the ground.

He said that the TeleAccess board would meet stakeholders at a meeting scheduled to be held next week in the capital to give a status report on progress made thus far. "We will, however, convene a briefing next week at which the board will lay down what we have done so far in terms of procuring equipment and getting ready," Shumba said.It has also emerged that TeleAccess was losing critical staff as a result of what sources close to the company said was the uncertainty presented by the protracted delay in launching the network.

Operators in the local telecommunications sector have painted a gloomy picture of their operations, which are plagued by soaring foreign currency denominated costs and a free falling local currency.

Mobile phone network operators have to contend with sub-economic tariff levels of about US$0.02 against regional averages of about US$0.2. The sole terrestrial phone operator TelOne has had to decommission its public pay-phone project due to problems in the acquisition and maintenance of key infrastructure.

Financial Gazette