Story by Owen Mandovha
LOCAL mobile telecommunication operators are reeling under high operational costs attributed to power outages and vandalism which is causing poor network connectivity, resulting in high tariffs.
The status of the telecommunications sector came under the microscope this Monday when stakeholders in the sector appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on ICT, Postal and Courier Services.
Discussions were centred on why the country is experiencing intermittent service delivery and the seemingly high data and call tariffs.
“The telecommunication industry is facing various challenges related to running and maintaining infrastructure caused by power outages and vandalism. In the end there is poor network connectivity. Operators also not getting approval to charge tariffs in foreign currency whereas the majority of costs are denominated in foreign currency.”
Mobile telecommunication operators attributed the high operational costs in managing network related to power outages and lack of investment in telecommunication infrastructure.
“Our landlords where our base stations are located have also become a huge part of costs as they are charging in foreign currency. There is also the issue of fuel costs caused by power outages. What it means is that there is intermittent network at times,” said an operator.
”As a sector, money going towards investment in infrastructure is very low where we are investing just five percent of our revenue, but in other countries, that figure is over 15 percen,” noted another.
Meanwhile, network operators pleaded with government to approve tariffs denominated in foreign currency for them to meet operational costs which are primarily settled in foreign currency.