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Zimbabwe's US$107-million ICT plan for 2019

Zimbabwe's US7-million ICT plan for 2019

Zimbabwe's Finance Ministry has released details of its 2019 infrastructure investment allocations, which includes US$107.6-million set aside for ICT infrastructure projects.

In addition to US$12-million to develop the infrastructure required to roll out VoIP, the country also requires US$100-million to complete its digitalisation migration project and unlock additional spectrum opportunities.

The digitalisation migration project is expected to 'open up' the telecoms market to increased competition, effectively ensuring the market can accommodate an additional operator.

The country currently has three mobile companies and one fixed phone operator, with the state being a dominant investor through holdings in mobile firms Telecel Zimbabwe and NetOne as well as in fixed line operator, TelOne.

According to a statement by Zimbabwe Treasury, "The migration creates a Digital Dividend Spectrum space which can be sold or leased to telecommunications companies, and hence, provide additional funding for the Budget. It is critical that the nation sweats its spectrum resources through competition, in order to maximise on benefits from the scarce resource."

The Treasury added that dividend spectrum had been intended for NetOne, offered for US$200-million by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, but the telco failed to mobilise sufficient funds to fulfil the transaction.

Officials at the Finance Ministry believe selling the additional spectrum previously awarded to NetOne will enable re-investment of the funds into telecommunications.

George Guvamatanga, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance confirmed that most of the resources to fund infrastructure in 2019 will come from increased tax collections through the 2% levy on electronic transactions.

Key priorities for the 2019 ICT infrastructure spend include "consolidation of public sector ICT assets" as well as continued extension of "the next generation broadband coverage to the majority of homes" and businesses.

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