Government should guard against fiber optic industry monopoly
INFORMATION Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira has said government will not allow individuals to dominate the fibre optic industry and has given TelOne the responsibility of setting up a national fibre optic backbone company.
Mandiwanzira appeared before the Nelson Chamisa-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information Communication Technology on Monday to speak on the acquisition of 60% Telecel shares by government-owned Zarnet, as well as other issues regarding the telecommunications industry.
“Fibre is now at the centre of our telecommunications industry, and beyond that it is now at the centre of e-government communication, whereby, government is connecting all offices throughout the country through fibre,” he said.
“Fibre is an industry we cannot allow anybody to dominate other than government, because we do not want a situation where because the nation depends on that infrastructure, somebody wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and decides the fibre infrastructure should be shut down so that people go and demonstrate on the streets.
“We want TelOne to build the national fibre infrastructure because when we have elections, they work on the backbone of fibre and we need that infrastructure to be in the hands of a neutral player, which is government because governments change every five years and are there to serve the people.”
Mandiwanzira, however, said the private sector was still welcome to put up their infrastructure.
He confirmed that the 60% Telecel shareholding was acquired from Netherlands-based VimpelCom at a cost of $40 million through funds provided by the National Social Security (NSSA).
“VimpelCom, which owned the 60% shareholding said they wanted somebody to give them $98 million for the 60% shares. Zarnet was too smart to say they will offer only $40 million. They agreed on the $40 million, which means the $98 million is now due to Zarnet. What Zarnet has done is to now sell the $98 million at a huge discount to NSSA for $45 million, and that is how we funded the transaction,” Mandiwanzira said.
Source: Newsday Zimbabwe