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Zim regulators over the top say telco execs

By , Journalist
Zimbabwe , 12 Aug 2015

Zim regulators over the top say telco execs

Telecel Zimbabwe has cautioned against over-regulation in the country's telecommunications industry and said telcos faced disruptive competition from over-the-top services, such as WhatsApp, that do not 'necessarily' have to adhere to regulatory scrutiny.

Zimbabwe's central bank and Potraz (the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe) are looking to tighten regulatory loopholes in telecommunications. This will include enforcing infrastructure sharing and integration of platforms.

However, industry executives say over-regulation will be bad for the sector, which is considered a highly competitive market.

Chief commercial officer for Telecel Zimbabwe, Nkosinathi Ncube, says operators should be given the room to be innovative - especially with mobile money.

"With mobile money, you don't have to overregulate - but there is need to give room for operators to be innovative," Ncube said.

Not so say regulators, who believe close regulatory approvals for the sector are required to curb money laundering and prevent the illicit flow of funds – which, they claim, is used to prop up terrorism and other sinister activities.

The claim is refuted by Zimbabwean telecom industry executives. "We haven't had challenges with people using mobile money to further money laundering and fund terrorism," added Ncube.

He said "the cellphone is here to stay so we should embrace it and also embrace mobile money" and stressed that "over-the-top services have had a largely negative effect" on the telecoms industry operators because technology did not necessarily need to observe regulation when it crosses borders.

"We are integrating and embracing over-the-top services such as WhatsApp. These are platforms that can cross the borders without needing to adhere to the same strict regulatory approvals and watch that we as operators go through," Ncube said.

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