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16 June 2017
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
The Zimbabwe government is looking to international investors to raise $250 million to build 600 mobile phone towers.
This appears to be a departure from the policy announced by the
country’s telecoms minister, Supa
Mandiwanzira, only days ago when he said the money would come
from the universal service fund (USF).
Now Sam Kundishor, the leading official in the ministry, told
the Newsday newspaper that the funds will be
raised from the investment community – though he
admitted that the government has not yet sourced the
The aim is to improve mobile network connectivity, Kundishor
told Newsday. He gave no details of where the funding will come
"We have to seek funding from investors and that is the process
we are engaged in at the moment. So it’s a
programme which is on-going definitely, but it’s
very difficult to tell you that you would see the $250 million
project implemented in 2018, for example. It will be very
difficult to say that," said Kundishor, who is permanent
secretary in the Ministry of Information Communication
Technology, Postal and Courier Services.
He added, according to Newsday: "But we are working hard to
ensure that the funds are raised from the investment community
and once that is done we will let you know." This interview
appears to contradict Mandiwanzira, who said the USF would be
Mandiwanzira said the three government-controlled operators,
NetOne, TelOne and Telecel, would have to prioritise rural
investment over development in urban areas "where they believe
they can get a return".
Kundishora said in his interview with Newsday: "We have also
received complaints in areas where there is poor mobile
coverage, and those are issues we are trying to address. We
have also talked to the regulator because the regulator has to
monitor those aspects and the regulator has to speak to the
operators concerned. So this is an on-going exercise and we
believe that operators are doing something about it."