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POTRAZ Increased Investment in “Projects” By 78% Using The Universal Service Fund (USF)

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POTRAZ exhibition booth

The year 2017 saw POTRAZ investing more in projects that extend Information Communications and Telecommunications to the “underserved and unserved” remote areas of Zimbabwe. The post and telecoms regulator used the Universal Service Fund (USF)to invest $7.3 million in 2017, thus representing a 78% increase after it invested $4 million in 2016. The Universal Service Fund is a pool of funds contributed by all operators licensed by POTRAZ – mobile operators, Internet Access Providers and the fixed-line operator- and part of its purpose is to fund the development of telecoms infrastructure in the country.

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Despite initiating a number of projects, its taking time for POTRAZ to realize the completion of some projects as foreign currency shortages (since last year) are backtracking the completion of the projects. Accordingly, many projects couldn’t be finished last year, henceforth their completion is slated for this year.

Now that some projects for 2017 are still being worked on to be completed in 2018, I wonder if POTRAZ will initiate and complete new projects that are designated for the year 2018.

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Let’s look at some projects POTRAZ invested in 2017

Infrastructure for Geographical Network Expansion

The project involved the construction of 3 additional base station sites to extend the geographical coverage of mobile services to rural areas.

Status

Completed

Internet Protocol Microwave

The project involved the provision of microwave radios for backhauling traffic generated at the above established terminal stations to core networks.

Status

Completed

Telemedicine

Telemedicine involves the delivery of healthcare services, such as health assessments or consultations, over the telecommunications infrastructure.

Status

Partially completed

Connectivity of 1,300 schools- 

The provision of internet connection to primary and secondary schools.

Status

Not yet complete

ICTs for People with Disabilities
This entails the provision of assistive software for use by people with disabilities to facilitate access to ICT services.

Status

Not yet complete

E-learning

As POTRAZ puts it, this “project is meant to bring contemporary learning resources to 50 rural schools by providing computer hardware and digital curriculum content on all subjects from Grade One to Advanced Level. The project also involves training of teachers on imparting lessons using digital platforms”.

Status

Not yet complete

Community Information Centres (CICs)

The provision of “public places where people can access computers, the Internet and other digital technologies that enable them to gather information, create, learn and communicate with others while they develop essential digital skills”

Status

Not yet complete

These kinds of projects dispel some myths, criticisms, and skepticisms that I, for many had with regard to the nature and use of the USF. Many thought that the USF was just one way by POTRAZ to milk money out of service providers and not use the funds for any improvement in the ICT sector. But here we are, some of the money is being channeled in tangible things.

POTRAZ

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe POTRAZ) is the regulatory authority of Zimbabwe's telecommunications sector and was established in terms of the country's Postal and Telecommunications Act Chapter 12:05. POTRAZ was established in February 2001 Read More About POTRAZ


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