The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) of Zimbabwe has urged the country’s central bank (RBZ) to give the telecommunications industry top priority when allocating foreign currency so that operators can acquire equipment for 5G network infrastructure.
The RBZ was compelled to sell forex via a weekly auction due to a liquidity shortage in Zimbabwe; the mechanism is designed to help businesses and importers acquire foreign currency at a lower cost.
The RBZ announced in a statement last week that US$2 billion had been distributed to various sectors of the economy, including equipment, raw materials and machinery.
However, according to Potraz Director-General Gift Chimanikire, the telecommunications industry is in critical need of forex to import equipment and advance with 5G network infrastructure objectives.
He said the regulator would add spectrum to reach 3.6GHz to “clear it of the antiquated systems that are currently occupying some areas and make it available for 5G deployment,” and added that more spectrum would be made available to operators in the following 24 months “to speed up the transition.”
Given that most of the equipment is imported, independent ICT expert Reward Kangai forecasts a slow turnaround on 5G deployment, citing the ongoing financial shortage as a significant factor.
According to the GSMA, 5G mobile phone technology is estimated to generate US$13 billion in revenue for Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy by 2030, accounting for roughly 0.4 per cent of the region’s GDP.