By Anna Chibamu
THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) is lobbying Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) to prioritise the ICT sector as load shedding has affected the economy through lack of communication during hours of power cuts.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube Thursday increased electricity tariffs by 270 percent for ordinary consumers and 500 percent for non-exporting businesses.
“We are lobbying Zesa that the ICT sector be prioritised when it comes to power,” Potraz Head Consumer Affairs and Publicity George Manyaya said in Mahusekwa, Mashonaland East Saturday.
He was speaking during an ICT consumer education and awareness campaign on their rights and responsibilities in use of postal and telecommunications services.
He added, “To the extent possible, Zesa should prioritise the transmission and core network so that data centres, hub sites, and hub centres among others, should not be subjected to loadshedding.
“Even in terms of accessing fuel, the network operators need to be prioritised.
“This will enable consumers to transact and communicate both locally and globally. ICT is the spine of the economy as it is intertwined with health, education, agriculture to tourism hence viability and sustainability of the sector is paramount for us to continue being open for business.”
Said Manyaya, “There is nothing you can do without communication. Imagine 5 minutes without mobile financial services; no Ecocash, One-money or Telecash? Every transaction lost means revenue lost for the government.
“The nationwide challenge of commercial electricity has affected the sector as all base stations run on electricity as their primary source of power…those without generators will only be able to provide service for the few hours the electricity is available,”
The Potraz official explained that most sites have generators but “by design, they are meant to run periods which are less than the 18 hours of Zesa load shedding. During load shedding, operators have to resort to generators assuming the site has a generator and the generator has fuel.
“As a result, generators are running over their timespan and faults are increasing, hence it becomes a double-edged sword. As the regulator, we need to ensure that we balance affordability and sustainability.”
He welcomed the removal of duty on solar equipment and gadgets by government on Thursday’s mid-term monetary policy.
POTRAZ is holding roadshows to educate consumers on their rights and obligations as well as on emerging issues associated with data bundles and out of bundle charges offered by service providers under the Right to Disclosure, which emphasises that service providers disclose up to date information on products and services offered: prices, discounts offered, terms, and conditions.
Roadshows are being held under the theme, ‘“Postal and Telecommunications Consumers – Know Your Rights” and in Mashonaland East, covered areas are Mutawatawa, Nhakiwa, Katiyo, Makaha, Cornerstore, Macheke, Sadza, Nharira and Chivhu town with the mega roadshow held in Mahusekwa.