We have received a few tips from readers letting us know that the local telecoms regulator, POTRAZ, doesn’t fall under the ICT ministry, which we’d expected it would. In fact, we’d assumed, wrongly as it’s apparent now, that the Ministry had been renamed “Information and Communication Technology, and Postal and Courier Services” to specifically encompass the full scope of POTRAZ’s regulatory mandate. POTRAZ, we’ve confirmed today, now falls under the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
We contacted POTRAZ’s deputy director general, Alfred Marisa and he has confirmed the development. Asked what the rationale in the move was, Marisa said that the OPC was better placed to respond adequately. He however explained that the arrangement is not unique to Zimbabwe and is actually international best practice in terms of ensuring regulatory independence.
“Regulatory independence is guaranteed by separating the regulatory body from all organisations providing communication networks, equipment or services. Hence the move to separate POTRAZ from the Ministry that supervises the sector is in line with international best practice.” said Marisa.
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On POTRAZ being free of ministerial control being a plus for independence, this is indeed a best practice recommendation globally. According to the ITU and Infodev produced regulatory toolkit, there are currently far more regulatory authorities independent from ministerial control around the world than dependent regulators. At least 153 independent ones it says.
Before this arrangement, POTRAZ reported to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, a ministry assigned the administration of Postal and Telecommunications Act which established POTRAZ. Effectively, this means the OPC has been assigned the administration of the Postal and Telecoms Act.