Zimbabwe’s liquidity crunch likely to delay 5G deployment
Zimbabwe’s Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) has appealed to the country’s central bank (RBZ) to prioritise the allocation of foreign currency to the telecommunications industry to enable operators to import equipment required for 5G network infrastructure.
The liquidity crunch in Zimbabwe forced RBZ to sell forex via a weekly auction and the system is mean to enable businesses and importers to access foreign currency at a cheaper rate.
In its statement last week, the RBZ indicated that US$2-billion had been allocated to various sectors of the economy among them: equipment, machinery, and raw materials.
However, according to Potraz Director-General Gift Chimanikire the telecommunications industry is in desperate need of forex in order to import equipment and progress with 5G network infrastructure objectives.
He said the regulator would add spectrum to reach 3.6GHz in order to “clear it of the legacy system for now occupying some portions and making it available for 5G deployment,” and added that more spectrum would be made available to operators in the next 24 months “to speed up the transition.”
Independent ICT expert Reward Kangai predicts a slow turnaround on 5G deployment and said the ongoing liquidity crunch would mean almost certain delays, given that most of the equipment is imported.
According to the GSMA, 5G mobile phone technology is expected to rake in US$13-billion for Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy or approximately 0.4% of the region’s GDP by 2030.