Being shunned by local telecoms operators was most probably a blessing in disguise for residents of Maitengwe in Matabeleland South. This is because residents of Maitengwe used foreign currency (forex) mobile money wallets since they used telecommunications network from Mascom and Orange.
This was disclosed during today’s launch of Maitengwe USF Shared Base Station, a telecommunications tower that ensures that residents of this areas use local telecommunication networks (service providers), thus Netone, Telecel, Econet rather than Botswana’s service providers. Maitengwe is situated close to the Plumtree Border post, Matabeleland South. The country’s telecoms regulator, POTRAZ forked out as much as $400 000 out of the Universal Service Fund to materialize the telecommunications infrastructure. The base station is one of 250 base stations POTRAZ is going to construct this year alone.
Maitengwe’s blessing in disguise
Due to its remoteness and proximity to Botswana, Maitengwe lacked access to the local service providers and therefore its residents were forced to use service providers from neighboring Botswana to communicate. By virtue of using Mascom and Orange lines (sim cards), the Maitengwe residents used mobile money solutions that come with these networks, that is MyZaka and Orange Money respectively.
Basically, this means that Maitengwe’s residents were ‘Ecocashing’ ( thus sending, receiving money and making payments) in forex, Pula’s. Meanwhile in Harare or many urban cities people are failing not only to get forex but even the bond notes.
Honeymoon over now for Maitengwe?
With the installation of the Maitengwe USF Shared Base Station, the residents can now access local networks. However, I’m sure they will still access Mascom and Orange networks. Therefore, they are more likely to maintain using these networks because they get to use forex (Pula cash) which is accessible relative to bond notes or USD dollars of local telecoms mobile money wallets.