Zimbabwe raises telecoms licence fees, migrates to converged licencing

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

POTRAZThe Herald reports today that the Government of Zimbabwe has raised the operating license fees for mobile network and fixed telephone operators from the current US $100 million to $180 million. The change comes as Econet Wireless and Telecel Zimbabwe prepare to renew their operating licenses in June this year. The licenses will be issued under a new Converged Licensing Framework. This is a move from the traditional technology specific licenses to a framework of technology and service neutrality.

The changes mean the operators will be able to offer a full range of telecommunication services using any technology including fixed telephony and fixed internet services. It’s something that has been going on already in some ways. Internet Access Providers like Africom, PowerTel and Valley Technologies have in recent years been offering fixed internet, voice, and mobile internet services using IP based technologies their their IAP licenses provide for. Mobile operators were limited though, with companies like Econet using subsidiary licenses (the Ecoweb one) to offer IP services.

Zimbabwe currently has 15 Licensed data operators (listed here, here and here), 4 GSM mobile operators (Econet, Telecel, NetOne and TelOne) and 1 fixed line operator (TelOne). The Data operators pay either $2 million or $4 million in license fees depending on the class with the most common class being the $4m one. Mobile and fixed telephone operators pay $100 million for a 10 year license.

In 2009, the Postal And Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) declared an indefinite suspension on the issuance of new telecoms licenses. TelOne was however issued with a GSM license the following year, a license the company has failed to operationalise since.

The Herald article also says Finance Minister Tendai Biti said “the licensing revenue would be leveraged in support of some of the financial requirements of both referendum and election programmes.” We are not sure if this means the fees have been raised to pay for the referendum and elections (which we hope against all hope this is not the case), or if the additional money will just be a convenient coincidence.

The raising of license fees will impact on the operators’ cost of delivering telecoms services so we may need to prepare for an increase in tariffs or, at best, previously planned tariff slashes to not happen.


  1. macdchip

    Does Powertel offer anything besides extremely frustrating internet speed.

    Seriously though, does Powertel offer any services like voip? I cannt ask the obvious like do they have any licence for that bcoz it might be that by virtue of being gvt entity, they can have any licence they want.

  2. Blogger

    $180 million divide (10 years license) = $18 million (each year) What’s the money being used for?

    1. james

      expanding network coverage in rural areas apparently according to POTRAZ check their website

      1. ????

        operators are still buying their own BTS equipment, backup power, etc. all usf does is civils. a tower and roads dont cost much, and there are less than 20 usf sites, so again, where is the money goin?

      2. washie

        if u were so knowledgeable about the industry you would know that license fees are for the national treasury, paid straight to the gvt not potraz, what you r toking abt is called usf

    2. William Chui

      According to my read on it (http://www.herald.co.zw/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=70297:mobile-licence-fees-raised&catid=41:business&Itemid=133), it is $180m/15 years. Sight increase, but then the new licence will allow the MNOs to do more than just be a GSM operator.
      In effect it will be a slight 16% increase with you include the $4m licence that MNOs will be allowed to operate under.

      What will be interesting to know is whether MNOs can now enter the fixed line space? TechZim?

  3. PowerInternet

    PowerTel does offer very good internet and point to point links through their optic fibre network. I would rate PowerTel optic fibre internet as the best in Zimbabwe. Liquid is way behind. Their CDMA platform is the problem because of over-subscription and because they can’t expand as fast as they want because of the endless bungling by the State Procurement Board and lack of appreciation of ICTs by the parent company and ministry.

    1. macdchip

      Probably you are talking about another Powertel from far spaces not the one we all kno from Zim.

      Where is this procurement thing you are talking about coming from? If you where saying gvt is at fault for letting Powertel used for source of employment for relatives and friends who dont have any relevant field knowledge l would have agreed. Im talking from experience and been to powertel on several occasions.

      How do you let all those computers at there HQ run without any Antiviruses. They almost killed my phone!! I met their technician and she left me with more questions.

      All this congestion shows lack of planning and enough knowledge of the network.

      Do any of powertel engineers know what backbone protocol they are running?

      I once heard a conversation about issues liquid was having in Harare, mpls issues. Believe me, they are centuries ahead of powertel.

      To prove you, go to Powertel and ask them what NAC method are they using to authenticate dongles, let us know answers you get so that we can help other users

      1. james

        looooool Powertel from far spaces loooool

    2. PowerInternet????Really???

      its no rocket science you are a PowerTel employee/marketing agent. taking every opportunity to market your product. This article is abt licensing fees, fyi

      On the other hand, now that you are an insider. your service is crap. Frankly. stop blowing your own trumpets and start working

  4. james

    Madness 80% increase so what about the customers, cos companies will jus pass down the cost to customers

    1. JamesM

      It’s easy to extort such fees from companies legitimately running their businesses unlike some diamond mining companies who pay nothing in fees and taxes. I will never establish a tech company in Zim, never.

      1. tinm@n

        Never? Your loss.

        Zim is riddled with issues, corruption AND virgin-territory OPPORTUNITY

  5. blazjames

    80% increase. Ma1

  6. spencer

    dear writer its actually $180 000 payable over 15 years, not 10 years, and also its a converged license different from the current licenses, meaning an operator can offer virtually anything they wish, be it voip, gsm, infrastructure construction whatever.

    1. L.S.M. Kabweza

      read again. it says the old is the one for 10 years. Doesn’t say anything about duration or payable period of the new license.

      1. spencer

        u r right bt only mentioning the huge increase without also informing of the changes in the repayment period is misleading, judging from some readers` comments# otherwise thanks for the updates#

        1. L.S.M. Kabweza

          the assumption (an incorrect one I now realise) is that by referencing and linking to the article that we are basing this on, the reader will the full details of the deal there. So we tend to not repeat everything in the original article.

  7. James Nkata

    15 IAPs wow

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