The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) says it will relocate 22 base stations (boosters) to rural areas to increase internet access in remote areas.
POTRAZ is using Universal Service Funds (USF), a contribution by all telecommunications operators in the country, to promote internet access in marginalised areas.
Presenting the Postal and Telecommunications 2021 fourth quarter sector performance in Harare on Tuesday, POTRAZ director-general Gift Machengete said:
We are going to relocate about 22 base stations to some rural areas to promote internet penetration in the rural areas.
We have given schools computers and we are paying bandwidth for them, especially now that we have been struck by the pandemic.
While the generality of Zimbabweans considers current data tariffs too high and unaffordable, Machengete said local data tariffs are comparable to regional countries. He said:
Our data tariffs are not out of the world. They are actually comparable with other countries in the region. We are lower than a few of our colleagues in the SADC region.
When we look at South Africa, the problem is the value of the Rand is quite stronger than ours so at the end of the day it appears that the tariffs are high but it’s their disposable income that is higher than ours.
The same applies to Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi also have higher disposable incomes, making their data appear cheaper than ours.
Data usage doubled in 2021 compared to 2020, mostly as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown which forced businesses and education institutions to rely more on the internet.
According to POTRAZ, in the final quarter of 2021, Netone grew its market share subscribers from 30.7% to 31.4% while Econet’s share fell marginally from 65.1% to 64.9%.
Telecel’s market share shrunk further, from 4.2% to 3.7%.