Zimbabwe confusion over source of $250m tower investment
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 money.
The aim is to improve mobile network connectivity, Kundishor told Newsday. He gave no details of where the funding will come from.
“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 used.
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.”