HARARE, April 6 (The Source)- Government needs to consolidate its interests in the ICT sector to unlock value from investments made and avoid duplication of structures, an industry official has said.
Zimbabwe has a fairly vibrant ICT sector which boosts of growing numbers of mobile money users and high rates of internet penetration and mobile phone usage. Government, however, has an overarching presence in the sector characterized by duplicate structures and organisations.
The government owns fixed line operator, Telone, which for survival is being forced to develop into a converged data services company. Government also owns and controls two separate Internet Service Providers (ISP) – Powertel and Zarnet.
Last year government through Zarnet bought Vimpelcom’s shareholding (60 percent) in Telecel Zimbabwe a mobile network operator (MNO). Government already owns another MNO in the form of Netone which typical of state run corporations is struggling and marred by issues of poor corporate governance and corruption.
Infrastructure Development Bank Zimbabwe (IDBZ) resource mobilization manager Willing Zvirevo said the country needs to address the fragmentation within the ICT sector.
“We have a lot of public institutions in the ICT sector that invested a lot of capital which could be optimized by facilitating a consolidation or sharing of infrastructure at least among public sector players,” he told analysts at the bank’s presentation of its financial results on Wednesday.
Last year government made it compulsory for MNO’s to share infrastructure in a move which seeks to eliminate unnecessary duplication infrastructure by maximising the use of existing and future infrastructure.
Telecoms regulator, Postal and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has been a strong proponent of the infrastructure sharing policy which it argues will cut the sectors’ capital expenditure by 60 percent and make ICT services affordable.