The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) is working on a two-phased $30 million project to expand network coverage to all inaccessible areas as national teledensity rises.
Zimbabwe’s teledensity rose to 78,8% in 2012 from 74,7% in the previous year according to March 2012 mobile and fixed subscriber statistics from the telecoms regulator.
A teledensity measures the number of active mobile phone SIM cards and landlines as a percentage of the country’s total population.
The development by Potraz comes amid complaints by subscribers in some of the country’s remote areas over poor network reception.
In written responses to NewsDay, Potraz director-general Charles Sibanda said the project had been rolled out through the universal service fund (USF) and will begin with eight sites throughout the country.
Under the USF, which is managed by Potraz, operators are levied 2% of annual revenue.
The fund among other things is used for site-sharing infrastructure amid concerns that local mobile phone operators are unwilling to share critical infrastructure across the country.
“The current project is worth $10 million and the next phase will be worth $20 million,” Sibanda said.
“We hope that this will improve the level of network coverage throughout the country and that even those communities that were formally marginalised, will benefit from this.
“We hope to commission the first phase of the project before the end of 2012.”
He said the telecommunications sector currently contributes about 6% to the country’s gross domestic product.
Zimbabwe currently has three mobile operations, Econet Wireless, Telecel and NetOne.