Eskom deal gives Zim telcos some respite


Power supply to Zimbabwe has improved after the recent electricity import deal struck with South African power supply firm Eskom.

This was confirmed by Zimbabwe's Minister of Information Monica Mutsvangwa following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The deal is a welcome development given the impact of rolling power cuts on Zimbabwe, specifically its telecommunications industry, as confirmed by the Minister of ICT Kazembe Kazembe.

Telco industry executives have bemoaned the adverse impact the power cuts (up to 18 hours a day in extreme cases) have had on businesses. Operators have been forced to rely on diesel generators to power up base stations and switching centres.

Kazembe is now expecting telecom network challenges to ease on the back of the improved power supply situation.

"Telecommunication base stations depend on power supply," state media quoted Kazembe as saying on Thursday. "Power interruptions due to load-shedding had an adverse effect on our base stations, resulting in poor mobile and internet networks in sectors such as banking, agriculture, mining, among others."

He added: "For telecommunication base stations to relay data to each other, all of them need adequate power supply ... owing to interrupted power (supplies) the base stations could not complete their circle of information transfers, although this is now expected to ease."

In the past weeks, Zimbabwe has also suffered disruption to data, mobile money and telecom services on the Econet network.

EcoCash is widely considered to be the biggest and most used mobile financial service platform in the country.

Against the backdrop of the increased operating costs owing to running and maintaining diesel generators, the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe this month approved a tariff increase for voice telephony services.

Econet said it requires US$60-million to migrate its base stations from electricity to solar power.