[headlines headline=h3]Econet Wirelesss Zimbabwe has raised its worries towards the usage of the Universal Service Funds (USF), a figure they contribute the most with a total tune of $43 million so far.[/headlines]
The USF is a pool of money into which the country’s licensed telecommunications companies contribute 2% of their annual revenue, while Econet is currently the largest revenue earner in Zimbabwe, by default they will contribute the largest chunk.
By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
Econet Wireless chief executive officer Mr Douglas Mboweni during the recent Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications Technology, Postal and Courier Services chaired by Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa noted that communities have not substantially benefited from the fund.
Econet has challenged the national regulator, Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), to fully account on the contribution they have contributed so far highlighting that the funds may not have been used towards the purpose contributed.
The main purpose of the USF is to channel investment in ICT infrastructure, especially in areas that are regarded as commercially not viable by private operators.
These are the areas which the government through Potraz should connect as a service delivery for the purposes of keeping the whole nation connected.
“Econet is the biggest contributor to USF, contributing $43 million to date although we have not seen any meaningful deployment for the benefit of communities as was the intention in the beginning. Our colleagues in the sector may not have contributed to USF,” Mboweni said.
He said there was need for POTRAZ to maximise the use of the USF fund to broaden coverage.
On the contentious infrastructure sharing, Mr Mboweni said that this should be mutually beneficial while thay are already sharing 300 sites Zesa, Transmedia, NRZ and local authorities
“Sharing of infrastructure should be synergistic and not parasitic where someone just rides on someone’s back.”
“Efforts are underway to identify additional sharing sites on a one-on-one basis so as to ensure sustainability and maximise the speed of rollout throughout the country,” he said.