Under fire, the Minister of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security (ICT) Supa Mandiwanzira has stated that his Ministry has an initiative to build more than a hundred base station towers across the country in un-serviced and under-serviced areas of Zimbabwe.
Mandiwanzira who was addressing journalists in Harare yesterday said that the initiative is to address communication as well as transaction challenges.
“We believe that the expansion of the network is important for people’s communication but beyond that mobile payment has become the mode of payment across the country in terms of transacting.” said Mandiwanzira.
“We cannot have mobile payment systems working in areas where there is no mobile network coverage and therefore by rolling out infrastructure of towers and bases across the country we are killing so many birds with one stone”.
The ICT Minister has been under scrutiny in the first couple of days into 2018 after documents on corruption allegations circulated online. The documents imply that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) is investigating Mandiwanzira on allegations of corruption with his involvement of NetOne. Mandiwanzira dismissed the the allegation stories as “fake news” going around the internet. Corruption in the government has been labelled as one of the problems pulling the country’s development and economy downwards.
Besides increasing the number of base station towers, the ICT Ministry has also plans to connect 15 thousand households to fibre optic cables in the next three months using Telone. Mandiwanzira told journalists that the target was for 80 per cent of the households in the country to have broadband by 2020. According to statistics Zimbabwe, a country with a population of 15,966,810 had 3,356,223 internet users, a 21 per cent penetration in 2016. A big population of the people in rural areas have also not been able to access the internet due to poor communication infrastructure.
The government of Zimbabwe has in the past blamed internet of causing alarm and despondency and moved on with drafting the Cyber Crime bill to curb social media despite raising issues of online monitoring. Mandiwanzira was talking on the hundred days assignments meant for service delivery to the people that the ministers have been given by the Zimbabwean President.