Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) director general, Dr Gift Machengete, says the importance of ICTs in empowering citizens and bettering the lives of citizens cannot not be overemphasised.
Dr Machengete was giving oral evidence alongside his boss the Minister of ICT Hon Muswere before the Parliamentary Committee on ICT on the status of telecommunication companies regarding access to foreign currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe foreign currency auction system.
“It goes without saying that ICTs are crucial in empowering people as well as improving business efficiency and profitability. Access to ICTs and effective participation in the digital economy is also critical in improving the quality of life for all,” he said.
The operators had requested the prioritisation of allocation of foreign currency to the telecommunications industry.
To date, those operators that met the requirements, had got allocations.
NetOne eceived US$1,9 million from the first quarter, which it used to service a long outstanding US$40,7 million China Exim bank debt dating back to 2017.
Presently, NetOne requires US$13,8 million to roll-out various capital projects earmarked to improve operational efficiency and cut costs.
The proposed projects include a billing system, hybrid solar systems for sub-stations and remote sitting monitoring system.
Econet has received US$1,7 million it used to settle international debts and upgrading capacity.
To date, it requires US$131,7 million to settle international obligations, operational support and core network upgrade.
Powertel got US$309 628 which it used to pay ZTE in respect of outstanding obligations for equipment supplied. Presently, it is soliciting for over US$61,9 million for projects, chief among them backbone expansion.
Dr Machengete said telecommunications operators needed heavy capital investments in order to remain relevant.