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Policy to liberalise ICT sector on cards

THE government is working on an Information Communication Technology (ICT) policy that is expected to liberalise entry of new players in the sector, a Cabinet minister has said.
REPORT BY KUDZAI CHIMHANGWA

ICT minister Nelson Chamisa said the draft policy has already gone through countrywide consultations before undergoing sectoral discussions.

He said various government ministries were making their input on the draft policy.

“Our hope is for the policy to be out this year as it is very urgent, but this is all subject to the speed with which the government facilitates the process,” said Chamisa.

“Various ministries are giving their input as this sector has been identified as a key enabler to the country’s socio-economic development.”

A variety of problematic aspects affecting the development of the industry were raised during the nationwide and sectoral consultations.

The existing single transit gateway policy does not allow for pure voice over internet protocol (Voip) to prevail, consequently leading to an imbalance in the sector as operators who came in ahead of new entrants are favoured.

For instance, despite the existence of other players with capacity to set up the national backbone, only the state-controlled TelOne has a monopoly in building such infrastructure in the country.

Comm IT systems manager Robert Ndlovu said such measures were simply aimed at protecting the parastatal’s revenues as competition for traffic heats up.

“It should also be noted that some companies don’t want Voip to grow because this will eat into their revenues,” he said

Other players suggested that the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) should licence aggregators for Value Added Services (VAS) such as short codes, bulk multi-media services, bulk short message services and triple-play, comprising voice, video and data, among others.

It was suggested that aggregators would also have to access all operators while tariffs would need to be gazetted too, as VAS has the potential to change the whole ICT landscape.

“We are reviewing that process to ensure that appropriate mechanisms that take such issues into consideration are catered for. We will adopt a streamlining approach in terms of who will provide particular services,” Chamisa said.

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