Following our recent report that Econet is Concerned About Their $43m Towards USF, where they challenged Potraz to explain how their $43 million towards Universal Service Funds contribution has been allocated since contribution during a parliamentary session, Potraz refused to engaged Econet at such levels.
By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
In his response, The acting director General told TechnoMag that they will not respond to Econet`s concerns they have raised through parliament since they simply do not report to Econet but to the government.
Mr Marisa said that “there is no such a provision enshrined in our law, It would not be practical for us to engage them or any single contributor on how we have allocated every cent contributed,”
“however government are the owners of the fund not us we are accountable to government and all our figures are thoroughly audited by the government”
Mr Marisa however added that they do consult all telecoms players in terms of the projects that they roll out and do a feasibility study to check where and how best infrastructure can be structured in remote areas for purposes of connectivity.
Since the USF funds in question are specifically meant to develop technologically, remote or rural areas where business does not find viable, We questioned how the regulator has progressed so far in initiating such connectivity as stipulated by law.
Potraz highlighted that they have been working on passive and active infrastructure as they are mandated .
Mr Marisa highlighted that they will be 12 new base stations to be newly commissioned and the official commissioning will likely be done with the Manama remote base station as others are now nearing completion.
Potraz staterd that they have been funding backhaul radio systems , and identifying connecting new basestation site for connectivity in the line of sight.
Recently we also procured radio equipment from NEC japan a renowned supplier in the telecoms sector to broaden connectivity and support the remote areas.
Potraz also spoke to TechnoMag in length about the ongoing connect a school project where they are connecting remote schools on solar power, purchasing laptops and computers plus giving them internet connectivity a n exercise that has costed a tune of $14million.
Since they are pursuing internet connectivity in rural areas, to compliment the presidential move to digitalise all the remote schools with some which have already received computer donations, Potraz said that they can only do so through Vsat connection for remote connectivity to areas where fibre or ADSL can not reach due to obvious infrastructure costs.
Another move Potraz has initiated is that of post buses which will transport parcels and letters using the same public transport system where passengers can still be ferried in the buses to cover operational costs.
Because it is very unprofitable these days to send letters to remote areas, and at times its only a few of those, they found it ideal that the both passengers and letter or parcels share the same transport.
“The postal buses are already operational, we started with 5 but there are 3 more converted to mobile communication centre to growth point where we have initiated an additional mobile internet buses for connectivity”
The mobile moving café are buses which move around areas like growth points providing wifi access for internet connectivity to the remote communities with mobile money services for all operators.
Potraz has so far contributed $5.4 million towards the project which is being run by the Zimbabwe Post Office services.
They also highlighted that they have been involved in provincial technology centers around Zimbabwe and such centre will be prototyped by the Murombedzi technology centre which is noe ready for commissioning.
Potraz said This is our mandate too aligning to towards e-government through postal network which is already present hence they capitalise on the postal network as they also fulfil the government`s ZimAsset via digitalisation.