Zimbabwe seeks partners for ICT infrastructure

By Staff reporter | 11 Apr 2019 at 16:44hrs
Dr Machengete
ZIMBABWE is seeking funding for the development of information and communication technology infrastructure (ICT) to ensure universal access to the international community, the country's regulator has said.

Gift Machengete, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general, said it was critical for the international community to pool resources together and channel funding to developing nations.

"Sustainable Development Goal 9 on access to ICTs for all by 2030 will remain a pipedream if certain fundamental aspects are not attended to especially in developing countries.  "Landlocked developing countries appeal to the world for capacitation to accelerate the provision of an enabling environment," he told delegates attending the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva on Tuesday.  

"We need funding for ICT and energy infrastructure, inclusivity for disabled and speakers of minority languages, content development, research and development, capacity building and accelerated ICT access and use," he said.

This comes after the World Bank recently noted that although digital technologies bring benefits to people, businesses, and governments, these benefits are not spreading evenly enough and rapidly enough to allow true global economic growth.

The most affected areas are the marginalised rural communities, which have lagged behind in terms of access and use.

Machengete said to overcome this challenge, the regulator is rolling out various ICT access and use programmes in Zimbabwe.

"We have the passive infrastructure project, where 20 multi operator radio access network sites have been completed to date.  The country needs 350 base stations to ensure total coverage. A partner has since been identified for this project and contract negotiations are underway.

"In the same vein, the regulator is rolling out base stations under a built transfer operate model. Here, operators are requested to erect shared towers on behalf of the regulator and then pay reduced annual licence fees in order to recoup their investment.  Similarly, the regulator has introduced infrastructure-sharing regulations into the regulatory framework for MNOs to complement this project," he said.

Potraz is also running an e-learning and schools connectivity programme where to date, it has distributed 4823 computers, 30 servers and 90 printers to 323 rural schools, while a total of 750 schools have been connected.

To cater for community members who are out of school, the regulator has set up 145 community information centres and 24 containerised village information centres. Over 10 500 people have been trained at these centres, countrywide, since October last year.

Potraz has also availed customised computer hardware and software to six (6) institutions housing people living with disabilities.

Machengete said there was need for a good national ICT infrastructure backbone supported by a robust national broadband plan to ensure an increase in internet access and digital literacy among unserved and underserved rural communities.

"There is need for sound regulatory interventions, to attract investments in the ICT sector. Regulations should also ensure that prices of ICT products are affordable," he added.

ICT minister Kazembe Kazembe said government has done a lot to create an enabling environment, not only for the business sector, but also for an ordinary person's ICTs aspirations to be fulfilled.

"Government's effort is now being beefed up by current reviews of the applicable legislation to align it, not only to technological developments, but also with social developments," he said.

The minister also expressed his appreciation to the International Telecommunications Union for its help towards Zimbabwe and Mozambique to restore communication infrastructure which was destroyed by Cyclone Idai.



WhatsApp Newsletter

Follow us

Latest Headlines