Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet still refusing to share infrastructure

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Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira says Econet Wireless is still refusing to fully share its infrastructure despite a legal framework put in place.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) minister Supa Mandiwanzira

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) minister Supa Mandiwanzira

Mandiwanzira told journalists on Thursday during a tour of TelOne’s fibre project along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road that Econet was not open to infrastructure sharing.

“The Statutory Instrument (SI 137 of 2016) is out and we expect that all operators within the telecommunication sector must share infrastructure. It’s not a new thing. It’s something that has been taking place,” he said.

“Infrastructure has been shared for a very long time and one of the institutions that has been in the forefront in terms infrastructural sharing is TelOne. It is now global practice.

“We are very happy that TelOne is continuing with infrastructure sharing. Telecel and NetOne are all talking about infrastructure sharing and how they can share some of the towers. We hope that all other players can come on board.”

In November last year, the government gazetted SI 137 of 2016 on infrastructure sharing, but insiders say Econet has been trying to negotiate with the government on the law, insisting on doing it on a one-to-one basis.

Mandiwanzira said Econet was itself enjoying quite a huge amount of sharing with government-owned companies such as TelOne and using infrastructure belonging to power utility Zesa Holdings.

“They (Econet) have not been very open, from what we understand, to sharing their infrastructure without receiving something from who they want to share with. So what they are insisting on is if you want to put your infrastructure on our tower, you must offer your tower so we put our infrastructure there,” he said.

“So they are saying let’s share but on a one-to-one basis. Let’s share if you have something also to give me. That is not the spirit of the policy. That is not the spirit of the law. That is not what we expect. We expect that the sharing must be open.”

Mandiwanzira said all operators, who wanted to use infrastructure of other companies, must pay for it, whether it is government-owned or not and that should be the determining factor.

“We insist that there must be payment and that the compensation must be fair and adequate. We refuse that operators can choose who they want to share with,” he said.

“The determining factor must be; are you able to pay? and if you can pay, that infrastructure must be available for sharing and we are going to insist on that.”

According to government, shared infrastructure limits the capital expenditure that every other operator has to incur to grow its coverage.

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