Telecommunications regulator, POTRAZ has been urged to use both the carrot and stick concept to ensure it attains the infrastructure sharing objective.
While the government has continually spoken of the need for telecommunications network service providers to fully comply with the infrastructure sharing thrust, there has not been much action on the ground, resulting in a number of areas not assessing these ICT based services.
POTRAZ has however taken the first steps through the construction of shared communication facilities.
Through the Universal Service Fund, to date, 367 towers each servicing a radius of 15km have been installed in Matabeleland with more set to be availed.
One such was the Moran site that was commissioned at Phumula village of Tsholotsho district in what was described as a fulfillment of one of the key deliverables of the government.
Guest of honour at the event, the Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Cde Kazembe Kazembe, reiterated that infrastructure sharing is a cost effective method that should be warmly embraced by network service providers.
“It is our fervent hope that through such initiatives our operators learn and continue to appreciate the tenants and benefits of infrastructure sharing. Apart from providing wider consumer choice and an enhanced service competition which in turn promotes creativity and innovation, infrastructure sharing significantly brings down both capital expenditure and operating expenditure,” he said.
While giving credit to network service providers for providing locals an opportunity to be part of the global digital community, POTRAZ Director General, Dr Gift Machengete called on the need to now tackle the issue of affordability of these services.
“As we now move towards addressing connectivity for the last 15% of our population, it is important to bear in mind the importance of affordability to consumers in general and bottom of the pyramid consumers in particular. Connectivity without affordability is futile and meaningless to the intended beneficiaries. We therefore believe that access to affordable quality information communication technologies is a basic right to every citizen in as much as access to water is a basic right,” he said.
Phumula villagers welcomed the availing of the telecommunication networks by the service providers, saying they are now included in the digital global world despite their rural setting.
Schools in the areas were also handed various ICT gadgets that are expected to go a long way in bringing the pupils to speed with the rest of the digital age.