The Zimbabwe government is mooting a policy that forces telecommunication firms to share infrastructure in far reaching reforms set to remove the duplication in investments by operators.The move comes at a time when government’s calls for infrastructure sharing had been ignored by the operators.
Speaking in Bulawayo last week, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Munesu Munodawafa said the proposed legislation would help reduce costs and ultimately lead to low tariffs. Munodawafa said the current licensing regime did not make it mandatory for infrastructure sharing and the new policy would give government the leeway to influence the direction of the investments and the development of that sector.
“What is happening now is a result of the current licences that the various operators have. The licences that were issued some 15 or so years ago did not anticipate certain developments in the telecoms
industry that are taking place now,” Munodawafa said.
“In future, we should have a policy which encourages sharing of networks and we believe that it would be cheaper in the long run for us to have shared services and base stations.” He said there must be “synergies in terms of having a national telecommunication backbone.”
The transport permanent secretary said discussions were underway between the ministry and the industry that would encourage players to share certain basic backbone and infrastructure while at the same time allow them to compete on the last mile and actual services provision.
Last mile refers to the technologies and processes used to connect the end customer to a communication network in the telecoms and technologies industries.Telecoms operators are currently competing in setting up infrastructure across the country. As a result, there is an over investment in some areas while others have remained neglected.