Zimbabwe operators agree to share infrastructure

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

The Ministry of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services has told mobile providers to discuss implementation of infrastructure sharing

Telecoms operators in Zimbabwe have struck an agreement to share infrastructure to help cut costs and reduce duplication, according to the government.

The Ministry of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services said operators and carriers will share infrastructure where it promotes the national interest, according to a report on Bulawayo 24.

Deputy minister Win Mlambo said the ministry was still dealing with legal hurdle around how telcos will carry out the process of sharing infrastructure, saying it will come in stages as discussions and consultations are carried out with the industry.

He explained: "We're deadly serious about doing the correct thing in the country. Starting with approval, the concept has been approved.  We spoke to stakeholders and network operators who have anonymously agreed that it's going to be done and it's the correct way to do.

"It has been done elsewhere in the world to cut costs, avoid duplication and speed up roll out of networks.”

The telecoms sector in Zimbabwe has been booming in recent years, according to Potraz, which reported that mobile internet data usage grew by 119% last year. There are currently four mobile providers operating in the country: Econet Wireless, Net One, Telecel and Africom.

Issues highlighted by the deputy minister include a reluctance among mobile operators to share their infrastructure; discussions around the impact on competition; and standardisation of technology.

"Complaints where money is involved are always expected because you are talking of competition among network operators. So you will find that network operators who are dominant in the market will want to maintain their dominance," Mlambo added.

"That is understood but we are saying we are looking at the national interest where the provision of communication to all communities should be done. While network operators are driven by commercial imperatives, where they run after the dollar but we are there to moderate that so that people may understand."