A GOVERNMENT minister has challenged Econet Wireless to stop using equipment belonging to the former state-owned telecoms utility PTC by Friday this week.
Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira was reacting to a statement from the mobile phone company criticising the government’s insistence on infrastructure sharing.
Econet, the country’s largest telecoms form which also has interests in other sectors of the economy, said infrastructure sharing would unfairly benefit rivals who chose other investment priorities.
However Mandiwanzira said Econet should not be moaning when it was already using infrastructure belonging to the government-owned TelOne and ZETDC.
“If Econet is very serious about its statements published today (Sunday) that it rejects infrastructure sharing, we hereby challenge them to remove their equipment and that of their related company Liquid from all TelOne and ZETDC infrastructure which they already enjoy significant sharing,” said Mandiwanzira.
“I challenge them to remove their installations on TelOne infrastructure and for Liquid to remove their fibre optic cable on ZETDC pylons by Friday this week.
“If they do so within this timeframe, then the Government of Zimbabwe will take their position to reject infrastructure sharing seriously.”
He added: “Since my appointment in December 2014 I have not received from Econet any request to discuss this or any other issue they might have with regards Government policy pronouncements.
“I have not made it a secret of my availability to any player in the sector who wishes to discuss any matter of relevance or importance to the sector.
“So I consider the pronouncement from Econet a very rude way of communicating with Government.
“I can only conclude that there is a hidden agenda to whip up public sentiment against the Government and its policies with Econet playing victim. This mischief is most unfortunate.”
Mandiwanzira said infrastructure sharing was necessary to protect users from profiteering by telecoms companies.
“As a Ministry we are very concerned that data charges being levied on Zimbabwe subscribers by most networks, especially Econet, are unjustified except when you are resisting infrastructure sharing,” said the minister.
“Therefore no mobile network, no matter how big or arrogant, should be allowed to grandstand in the media by pretending to be the protector of consumers when it is in fact extorting the consumers by its totally overpriced products.”