BY VENERANDA LANGA
THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has embarked on an infrastructure development project which will ensure that the marginalised and under-serviced communities in the country are able to access information communication technologies (ICT) and telecommunication services.
The Passive Telecommunications Infrastructure Project, which is supported by the Universal Services Fund (USF), has enabled the construction of 20 telecommunication sites which will cater for under-serviced areas in the remotest parts of the country.
Currently, members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information Communication Technology are on a fact-finding mission in different parts of the country to find out if telecommunication companies are sharing infrastructure.
Passive infrastructure refers to non-active facilities provided at a telecommunications site to support the provision of ICT services to the surrounding areas, for example, solar power, towers, diesel engine generators, power back-up batteries, access roads and perimeter fences.
Speaking on behalf of the director-general Gift Machengete, Potraz spokesperson George Manyaya said the passive infrastructure connectivity project would contribute to the turnaround of the economy.
“The projects were funded through the Universal Services Fund, which is aimed at promoting universal access and improving standards of life,” he said.
“Accordingly, we are working towards bridging the digital divide as testified by the increase in the country’s mobile and internet penetration rates. This also enables infrastructure sharing by operators as we provide the infrastructure and operators share the facility.”
Manyaya said after completion of the project, the infrastructure is assigned to a licensed telecommunications operator for operation and maintenance purposes.
“However, all operators are obliged to share the passive telecommunications infrastructure site facilities,” Manyaya said.
To date, USF has funded and constructed 15 shared passive mobile telecommunications base station sites in Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Manicaland, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central provinces.
Meanwhile, Sikelela Nleya, the headmaster of Mangubo Primary School in Maitengwe, Plumtree, commented the USF for setting up a base station a few metres away from the school.
He said the school bought 11 computers to set up a computer laboratory to take advantage of Maitengwe Base Station and appealed to authorities to connect power to the institution.
Potraz programmes manager Mavis Maunganidze said the USF was prioritising connectivity to marginalised communities in the country.