The Postal and Telecommunication Regulation Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz)’s thrust to educate, inform and empower consumers has been received in good light by stakeholders around the country.
During the year 2017, the regulator has reinvigorated efforts to protect consumers and at the same time carrying out projects that benefit the under-serviced marginalised consumers.
In an unprecedented move, the regulator held its first-ever annual general meeting (AGM) last week and disclosed to the nation how the universal services fund was utilised.
This issue of transparency has been a contentious issue as Zimbabweans across the divide have been demanding to know what was happening to the funds.
Among other issues, the regulator revealed that funds went towards tower construction and community information centres.
There has also been tower construction in Maitengwe in Matabeleland South, Nemashakwe in Masvingo and Chiunye in Mashonaland East areas which were under-serviced.
Operators have since deployed network equipment to these sites extending network coverage.
The Standard People understands there is talk of the Gift Machengete-led Potraz making frantic efforts to rollout an additional 250 sites in unserved rural and remote areas that operators were not willing to cover due to high capital and operating costs as well as sub-economic returns.
An enthusiastic, Maria Chikanya who is a farmer from Hwedza, was excited about the community information centres.
“Potraz has done a good thing to include us in this information drive. We have been advised that they will be coming to rural areas and teaching us basic computer skills for free in the community information centres they built,” she told The Standard People.
Lameck Mudukuti from Beitbridge was happy his area was included in the information drive in November when Potraz hosted a roadshow to educate consumers on their rights.
“I did not know that if I face challenges in making a call or if there is no service in our area for a certain period, I am supposed to make a query with my network provider,” he said.
“If I’m not happy with the response, I can refer my queries to the regulator. The days of data disappearing in my phone are over.”
Njabulo Ncube, the co-ordinator of the Zimbabwe Editors Forum, said the media has always been talking about transparency and accountability.
“If all parastatal and government institutions can be as transparent as Potraz has been, this will indeed herald a new era in this new political dispensation,” Ncube said.
“This was the first-ever AGM since 2001 and it’s a pat on the back for the government and the regulator.”