Telecoms operators in Zimbabwe have agreed to an infrastructure sharing policy promoted by the government. Minister of Information, Communication, Technology, Postal and Courier Services Supa Mandiwanzira told local newspaper The Herald that telcos had signed off on the measures and that industry regulator POTRAZ has also submitted the findings from its recent consultation on network sharing. He added that draft legislation to open the way for shared infrastructure has been produced and is due to proceed to the Attorney General’s office to ensure that it complies with the requirements of the Telecommunications Act. The government is keen to promote infrastructure sharing as a means of reducing capital expenditure for telcos, with the savings being passed on to end users in the form of cheaper tariffs.
Zimbabwe is home to three cellular operators – Econet, NetOne and Telecel – while the fixed line sector is dominated by state-owned TelOne. Mobile market leader – and sole private-sector player – Econet, which controls 80% of equipment already in place across the country, had previously spoken out against enforced network sharing, saying the move would be a ‘disguised, unconstitutional form of compulsory acquisition’ of its infrastructure, since its closest rival – and the likely main beneficiary of mobile network sharing – is government-owned cellco NetOne (whilst the state also completed a takeover of Telecel earlier this month).