BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
THE country needs 350 more base stations so that it will have adequate network coverage, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has said.
Speaking at the World Communication and Information Society Day commemorations briefing in Gutu yesterday, Potraz director-general Gift Machengete said the country currently has 7 863 base stations and plans were afoot to court investors to build more and bridge the gap.
“Three hundred and fifty stations are needed to cover other grey areas. We are looking for investors to invest in those areas. We negotiating with those who can help us so that everywhere we have network,” he said.
Machengete said through the Universal Services Fund, Potraz had erected 20 base stations across the country.
World Communication and Information Society Day is commemorated on May 17 and this year, it was celebrated under the theme Bridging the Standardisation Gap.
Masvingo province has 581 base stations, but they are not sufficient, Machengete said, adding 12 Zimpost offices were renovated to become community centres in Masvingo province and four of those were containerised village information centres offering training facilities.
Cumulatively, 146 community centres have been set up across the country.
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Machengete said at least 24 containerised community information centres had been set up as pilot projects across the country.
“We are about to roll out the project in full swing across the country, which will have computers for research and training purposes,” he said.
The Potraz DG added that at least 720 laptops were distributed through the “connect a school” programme in Masvingo.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Ezra Chadzamira said Mwenezi district had a huge population, but did not have sufficient base stations.
He said Mwenezi, Zaka and Chiredzi had the worst network coverage in the province.
Chadzamira said in rural constituencies, there were a lot of unoccupied houses that needed to be converted into community centres.
“We cannot develop without the ICT ministry for us to have an upper-middle class by 2030. We can capacitate our universities to produce computers locally than rely on imports,” he said.
ICT minister Kazembe Kazembe acknowledged the need to invest in increasing network coverage in the country.
“We are having discussions to see how best we can have this solved. We are talking with the Potraz director-general so that can we bring investors who can come and build base stations to operate and transfer,” he said.
Kazembe, who also commissioned a community information centre at Gutu centre, said government had put ICT at the top of its agenda to catch up with the rest of the world.
He said innovation hubs were being put in place in universities to equip students with the ability to solve the country’s problems.
The event was graced by Mines minister Winston Chitando, who is also Gutu Central legislator, Labour deputy minister Lovemore Matuke, local MPs and telecom executives.