Zimbabwe’s leading telecommunications group, Econet Zimbabwe says despite registering significant increases in data and voice traffic volumes in the three months to May 2021, the growth has left a major strain on its network which is in dire need of upgrade.
The country’s ICT sector has been immensely affected by lack of infrastructure investment due to acute foreign currency shortages and viability challenges as operating costs continue to rise.
“Greater investment is required in the ICT sector if we are to realize the full potential that our country has to offer,” the Group said.
“Data and voice traffic volumes increased by 77% and 25% respectively from comparable prior year period. Although we have been able to accommodate this capacity growth, it has put a lot of strain on our network.”
The advent of COVID-19 pandemic brought increased demand for digital and telecommunication services as more people are now working and learning remotely using telecommunications network.
Econet has in recent years repositioned its business to become a “Digital Lifestyle Network” by investing US$ 2.5 billion in resilient network infrastructure becoming a dominant operator in terms of 2G, 3G as well as LTE coverage.
“We are pleased to report that despite the lack of adequate investment due to challenges in accessing foreign currency our connectivity has facilitated educational, social, economic and other opportunities to our customers,”
“However, more investment is necessary to allow us to meet the increasing needs of our customers. We remain as committed as ever to provide faster speeds and wider coverage in line with the POTRAZ Covid-19 relief programme through deployment of additional LTE sites as well as accessing additional 3G spectrum,” said Econet.
Government allocated ZWL$8 billion for investment in the sector in 2021, mainly targeting rollout of optic fibre network, digital television services and access to online public services by citizens.
This is expected to assist telecom companies to bridge the infrastructure gap in the wake of infrastructure sharing that has been in proposed.