The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) Universal Services Fund will receive 1% from individual telecommunication companies’ revenue which is expected to generate $25 million in the next 24 months towards building local applications, a government official has said.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
This comes as telecommunication companies unsuccessfully approached government mid last year to put restrictive measures on social apps such as Whatsapp Calling, Viber, Facebook Messenger and Skype that the companies accused were cutting into their revenue streams.
Speaking at the 2016 E-Tech Africa Expo with the theme “Creating A Climate for Innovation and Access to Global Markets” yesterday in Harare, the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), Postal and Courier Services minister Supa Mandiwanzira said the fund had been agreed to by the telecommunication companies and government in January.
“From January 1, every telecommunication company that is regulated by Potraz has agreed to put 1% of their revenue in the Potraz Universal Services Fund towards building local applications. We expect to have between $20 and $25 million into this fund within the next 24 months,” Mandiwanzira said.
“That 1% of the revenue from these telecommunication companies which they generate out of the use of the telecommunication services will now go to this specific fund for the promotion or development of platforms and application by Zimbabweans.”
The main revenue stream from the telecommunication companies in Zimbabwe is voice calls that are placed through their network services.
The fund is aimed at allowing local software and applications to be built to compete with these popular social applications as well as generate extra income.
“This fund is a collaborative effort between ministry, regulator (Potraz), as well as industry players, specifically telecommunication industry players,” Mandiwanzira said.
The ICT ministry last year issued a 90-day ultimatum to the telecommunication companies to sign an infrastructure sharing agreement, aimed at reducing costs by at least 30%.
The minister said the 90-day ultimatum that was issued by government was met and has a document that submitted by Potraz with all the player in the industry and draft regulations that now need to be gazetted and are in the process of taking them it the attorney general’s office.