Over the past few months, information in the ICT sector has been suggesting Zimbabwean mobile operators are working to get RIM’s BlackBerry services on the local networks. Reports like this one on Telecel we did in December last year.
It’s not clear how much progress Telecel has made seeing the engineer said to be working on the BlackBerry project ran into some nasty problems with Zim’s immigration authorities in January.
Over the last few weeks we’ve been getting tips that Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is working on launching BlackBerry Internet Services on its network. So far the word from Econet is that preparations, including training, are pretty advanced and the company should launch “very” (Econet’s emphasis there) soon.
Today, the state owned weekly ran a business front page article on the subject titled “BlackBerry services for Zim… as clashes loom over encryption keys”. The article notes the need to clear BlackBerry services with the telecoms regulator and the government as the core system will be based outside the country and its data heavily encrypted. According to the article,
Econet Wireless must also engage the regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) and government in order to ensure that his unique product is in sync with the country’s laws, especially the Interception of Communications Act (ICA).
ICA makes it mandatory for a telecommunications service provider to install hardware and software facilities and devices to enable interception of communications
Furthermore, the telecommunications service should store communication-related information and be connected with the communication-monitoring center or alternatively be re-routed to the monitoring center.
For its part Econet has advised that the service launch will be done in close consultation with the regulatory authorities the same way they do with all product launches.