More Africa NewsZimbabwe: Regulator to deploy community networks to improve digital communication

June 1, 2022by myles0

At the end of 2021, the Internet penetration rate in Zimbabwe stood at 62.6%, with the majority of Internet users living in urban areas. The government is exploring new solutions to bring connectivity to populations living in rural areas.

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has announced that it wants to launch local community initiatives to build, control and operate telecommunications network infrastructure to facilitate digital communication.

In a public notice, the regulator invited “  any Zimbabwean representing their community and willing to set up a community network in their province for the benefit of their local community  ” and requiring funding from the Authority to submit their proposals no later than June 5, 2022.

According to POTRAZ, each project must include an outline of detailed engineering design, financing, comprehensive business model proposal covering post-financing sustainability mechanisms, technical expertise, and project schedule. The project must also include plans for skills development training, detailed plan on community engagement and project lifetime as well as licensing and partnership measures.

The regulator’s move to promote community networks comes as millions of people in Zimbabwe still lack internet access, especially in rural areas. According to POTRAZ, the internet penetration rate in the country was 62.6% in the third quarter of 2021. The initiative follows the success of Zimbabwe’s first community network, launched in May 2021 in Murambinda in the rural district of Buhera, which has connected thousands of people in the region. 

This initiative of the regulator should give rise to dozens of community networks across the country in order to provide telecom services and high-speed connectivity to the fringe of the population which is not yet connected to the Internet. The latter will be able to take advantage of the advantages linked to the Internet such as social networks, streaming, online games, online courses.

Source: Agence Ecofin

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