THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) says the broadband gap between the urban and rural areas is more evident and is an obstacle towards the implementation of programmes such as e-learning at national level.
In a 2020 annual sector performance report, Potraz director general Gift Machengete said the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the extent of exclusion and deepened pre-existing inequalities in access to digital services.
“Accordingly, we are likely to witness increased efforts at government and operator levels, towards accelerating the speed of connecting underserved areas. Closing this access gap will be of critical importance in 2021,” he said.
Machengete said the anticipated economic recovery on the back of an expected good harvest would result in a huge demand for Internet services.
“This is envisaged to boost agro-based production and industries. The anticipated increase in economic activity will create more employment opportunities and increase disposable incomes, which will boost aggregate demand.
“Resultantly, we are likely to witness a surge in demand for communication services, in particular data and courier volumes as consumers adapt to the new normal.
“Hence, digitisation is likely to be scaled up, with operators repositioning themselves by upgrading and automating their networks to enhance agility to deliver new services or applications to meet fast changing and versatile consumer demands,” he added.
The Potraz boss said coverage only, would no longer be a key strategic factor, hence we may see operators investing more in faster broadband technologies such as 4G and probably, 5G.
“Given the demand in broadband, and the competition in its provision, there will be renewed focus on customers’ needs by taking a more refined approach to customer engagement,” he added.
Annual sector revenue for 2020 was $38.8 billion up from $4,5 billion recorded in 2019, this represents an annual variance of 751.7 percent and an inflation adjusted growth rate of 89,9 percent.
Operating costs for the sector in 2020 amounted to $20.6 billion up from $3.3 billion recorded in 2019, giving an annual variance of 528.5 percent and an inflation adjusted rate of 40 percent.