The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, Potraz has reached a remarkable milestone in executing its various mandates which include consumer education, promoting the development of sector services and advancement of technology across all industries.
Established in 2001, Potraz was given a critical mandate by the government to regulate the country’s most sensitive information communication technology sector through developing an institutional framework for telecommunications in Zimbabwe.
Over the past 17 years, Potraz has done extremely well in liberalizing the telecoms sector which saw the regulator creating a level playing field for three Mobile Network Operators – Econet, NetOne & Telecel, licensing a record eleven Internet Access Providers and three Internet Service Providers.
In exploring its mandate of consumer education and protection, Potraz has this year launched a series of consumer awareness campaigns in which the regulator rounded the country’s ten provinces to interface with telecommunications service users.
Up to date, Potraz has covered Gokwe – Manoti, Concession, Nyanga, Chiredzi, Mutoko and recently Mutatre – Sakubva where the regulator has pulled huge crowds which came to seek education on their rights to high quality and fair services from their providers.
Also pushing its millennium goal of total connectivity across Zimbabwe, Potraz has been building Community Information Centers (CICs) on all Zimpost situated outlets. The CICs house modern Internet Cafe infrastructures giving surrounding communities access to the Internet. The very same CICs also have video gaming sections for the youths, an initiative by Potraz to keep the youths from drug abuse and other atrocities associated with idleness.
To further advancement of technology in Zimbabwe, Potraz has also launched the ICT Innovation Drive, a fund structured to fund tech startups across the country’s tertiary institutions. Early this year, Potraz has already awarded funding to six top startups out of the 188 applications received last year.
The ICT Innovation Drive is being derived from Potraz’s Universal Service Fund (USF) and will be used to achieve the following:
- Increasing research and development as well as ICT uptake by young innovators.
- Establishing innovation hubs
- Increasing the number of home-grown ICT applications
- Creating Employment in Zim
- To promote a culture of innovation and development among Zimbos
- Increase financial literacy
- Providing training to the beneficiaries of the funds