Broadband Cost Reduction. The Zim Strategy

Broadband Cost Reduction. The Zim Strategy

Internet services in Africa has always been limited. It is limited in availability and in affordability. While we think of the cost fixing the limitations placed on internet services as a result of non-availability in rural areas of Africa, the government and broadband providers can handle the internet restraints arising as a result of cost.

Approximately 480 million Africans presently have access to mobile internet, according to Statista. These 480 million individuals must purchase data either daily, weekly, or monthly in order to maintain an internet connection. It should be mentioned that mobile data prices in African nations are typically among the highest in the world. According to the aforementioned source (Statista), the high cost is caused by a number of things, including a lack of infrastructure and a large tax burden on the African telecom sector.

The main objective of African governments should be towards creating policies that facilitate the needed infrastructure to reduce the cost limitations to broadband services in Africa. Important advances have been made in several Southern African nations and there are still areas yet uncovered. In this light, Zimbabwe’s government has given the country’s National Broadband Plan the thumbs up, and officially approved a new strategy to roll out broadband services nationally within the next seven years.

With the proposed reform, the cost of internet access will drop from its present level of 10.1% of the average monthly income of Zimbabweans to just 2%. A Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) research from August 2022 states that the average cost of 1GB of data in Zimbabwe is $4.92, with the least costly plan costing $1.73 and the most expensive plan costing $12.92.

The plan, according to Monica Mutsvangwa, the nation’s minister of information, publicity, and broadcasting services, will encourage broadband service adoption and access in an effort to shift Zimbabwe’s growth trajectory from being largely driven by the exploitation of natural resources to innovation-driven growth.

Broadband licenses has contributed greatly to the increased cost internet connectivity in Africa. With licenses offered at exorbitant prices, telecom operators are forced to transfer the cost and consequences to end users.

The Post and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), which oversees the nation’s telecoms industry, published details of their National Broadband Plan consultation document in 2020 and estimated that $125 million would be required to build out broadband statewide.

Increased internet connectivity, according to Mutsvangwa, will boost the nation’s competitiveness abroad, generate more jobs, and strengthen national security. The regulator noted that in addition to the installation of complementing backhaul transmission lines to provide access nodes, 1,848 km of fiber would need to be constructed.

The Minister stated that while the government will lead the effort to raise money, it is also looking to form partnerships with private investors. “A committee will be established to oversee progress and facilitate coordination and collaboration. The vision of the plan is to have an all-inclusive digital society powered by premier innovation by 2030,” Mutsvangwa concluded.

Implementing the new policy in a timely and affordable manner to significantly reduce costs and barriers to entry for mobile network operators will be strategic in sharpening the country’s broadband access and expand digital process.