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Foreign partners ditch telecom firms

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Zimbabwe’s telecommunications companies

Zimbabwe’s telecommunications companies are being deserted by their foreign partners that service and upgrade their systems due to inability to meet payment obligations in foreign currency.

Telecommunication companies are not being prioritised in terms of foreign currency allocations by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which has resulted in recent network problems.

However, the regulator the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), is engaging the central bank to prioritise the telecoms sector in foreign currency allocation.

“Our networks have been facing upgrade challenges and service support partners are owed a lot of money, they want to be paid,” said POTRAZ director-general Dr Gift Machengete speaking to journalists during a sector performance briefing.

“Potraz has been engaging the RBZ to prioritise the sector on foreign currency allocations and we will continue to do so,” he said.

The country has been grappling foreign currency challenges that have affected business operations, resulting in supply gaps in some sectors such as manufacturing. The telecommunications sector has not been spared.

Of recent, the country has been experiencing network hiccups with mobile money platforms being the worst affected, causing some disruptions in transactions.

Late last year, Potraz appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information Communication Technologies and Courier Services and made calls for the sector to be prioritised on foreign currency allocations as it was highly dependent on imports.

“Currently there are no local suppliers of telecommunications equipment. All spare parts are imported and supplied by foreign vendors such as ZTE, Ericson and Huawei amongst others. This requires foreign currency.

“Spare parts for telecommunications equipment are not on the priority list for international remittances.

“This has negatively impacted equipment servicing, replacement of faulty, damaged and malfunctioning equipment, network upgrades and network re-dimensioning,” said Dr Machengete.

ICT has been identified as a key enabler to economic growth with its services used in all the key sectors of the economy such as mining, agriculture, education, health as well as industry and commerce.

According to the World Bank, there is a strong correlation between ICT growth and GDP growth.

In a 2009 report titled “Extending Reach and Increasing Impact,” a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration accounted for a 1,38 per cent increase in per capita GDP growth in developing economies.

The sector is also crucial in promoting ease of doing business especially at a time transactions are now largely skewed towards digital platforms such as internet banking, real-time gross settlement (RTGS) and other electronic platforms.

However, economic challenges such as limited foreign currency, the high cost of machinery and the current liquidity and cash crunch the country is experiencing are posing challenges for the sector as it has reduced consumer spending.

In 2018, the entire postal and telecommunications sector’s total investment went down 18 per cent to $160 million, while operating costs rose 22,6 per cent to $1 billion on inflationary pressures.

According to POTRAZ, the Average Revenue Per User per month (ARPU) for the mobile networks has gone down to $3,98 per month in 2017 from $4,97 per month in 2015.

Additionally, incremental cost studies, done in 2013 and 2014 and reviewed in 2017 revealed that Zimbabwean operators were being charged higher prices and higher interest rates for telecommunications infrastructure by international telecommunications vendors, such as Ericson and Huawei amongst others, as compared to the prices charged to operators in other countries.The Herald

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INTERNATIONAL

African Union’s Inclusion in G20: A Significant Acknowledgment of a Continent with 1 Billion Inhabitants

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african-union-g20

The world’s most powerful economies, the G20, have welcomed the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, recognising Africa’s more than 50 countries as important players on the global stage. US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both expressed support for the AU’s permanent membership.

The AU has advocated for full membership for seven years and, until now, South Africa was the only African country in the G20. The AU represents a continent with a young population of 1.3 billion, which is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world’s population.

Africa’s 55 member states have long pushed for meaningful roles in global bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, and want reforms to the global financial system. The continent is increasingly attracting investment and political interest from global powers like China, Russia, Gulf nations, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. African leaders are challenging the framing of the continent as passive victim and want to be brokers instead.

They seek fairer treatment by financial institutions, delivery of rich countries’ long-promised $100 billion a year in climate financing for developing nations, and a global tax on fossil fuels. The AU’s full G20 membership will enable it to represent a continent that’s home to the world’s largest free trade area and abundant resources needed to combat climate change. The African continent has 60% of the world’s renewable energy assets and over 30% of the minerals key to renewable and low-carbon technologies.

African leaders want more industrial development closer to home to benefit their economies. Finding a common position among the AU’s member states, from economic powers to some of the world’s poorest nations, can be challenging, but Africa will need to speak with one voice to influence G20 decision-making. African leaders have shown their willingness to take collective action, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a high-profile G20 member, Africa’s demands will be harder to ignore.

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BUSINESS

Forging Strong Bonds: Iran and Zimbabwe Deepen Economic Ties in Raisi’s Africa Tour

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Zimbabwe and Iran

On Thursday, Zimbabwe and Iran signed 12 memorandums of understanding to strengthen their bilateral ties during Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Africa. Raisi had previously visited Kenya and Uganda before meeting with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare. Among the 12 MOUs is a plan to establish a tractor manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe with the help of an Iranian company and a local partner. The two countries also signed agreements for cooperation in energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications, as well as research, science, and technology projects.

Mnangagwa expressed his appreciation for investments in several sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy to reporters after the signing ceremony. However, he did not disclose the amount of investment Zimbabwe is expecting from Iran. Raisi mentioned the economic challenges facing Iran and Zimbabwe due to U.S. sanctions but emphasised his country’s efforts to build closer economic ties.

According to Iran’s foreign ministry, trade with Africa is expected to exceed $2 billion this year, but there was no comparison to the previous year’s figures. This African visit is the first by an Iranian leader since 2013, following a visit to three Latin American countries in June, all of which are also affected by U.S. sanctions.

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BUSINESS

Breaking News: E-Creator Fraud Ring Leader Apprehended by Police

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Zhao Jiaotong

The Zimbabwe Republic Police is requesting that individuals who have been deceived by E-Creator, Zhao Jiaotong come forward and report to the nearest police station.

According to police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, the kingpin of the E-Creator Ponzi scheme has been arrested on charges of fraud. The suspect is identified as Chinese national Zhao Jiaotong, who is said to be the founder of the notorious platform that has scammed people out of thousands of dollars.

Nyathi stated, “The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms the arrest of Zhao Jiaotong, 39, in connection with a case of fraud in which unsuspecting members of the public were duped through the E-Creator Ponzi scheme.”

The police are urging anyone who may have fallen victim to E-Creator to report to their nearest police station. Additionally, the public is encouraged to exercise caution and perform thorough research before investing in any Ponzi or pyramid schemes that promise quick returns.

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