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Govt probes TeleAccess

Shakeman Mugari

DANIEL Shumba’s TeleAccess risks losing its operating licence after revelations this week that the government has launched investigations into the company’s failure to roll out its network. <

Shumba, who was awarded the second fixed network licence after a protracted battle with government in January last year, has been promising that his company would roll out phones. But his failure to do so has prompted the current investigations which started in July.

A report is expected next week.

Transport and Communications permanent secretary Karikoga Kaseke last week confirmed that TeleAccess was being probed by government to establish why it had failed to start operations within the given period.

Kaseke said the government has instructed the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) to carry out the investigations.

“We want to know why they (TeleAccess) are not operating. They have been having this licence for a long time now,” Kaseke said. “We instructed Potraz to start the investigations in July and we are expecting the report any time now.” Potraz should have presented its findings to the Ministry last week.

Kaseke said government is concerned with TeleAccess’ failure to roll out the network. Regulations say a company is required to start up a network within six months of getting a licence.

“Because this is a national asset, we need to know their problem,” said Kaseke. The government wants to verify Shumba’s claims of having state-of-the-art equipment and financial muscle to start up the network.

Shumba, who is also the Zanu-PF chairman for Masvingo, has in the past told Potraz that his equipment was being shipped from China. The inquiry would also seek to establish reasons why TeleAccess is not operating despite having been give the licence 18 months ago.

The investigations, sources at Potraz say, have been triggered by the growing number of companies that have applied to Potraz for a fixed network licence. Afritell, a telecoms company backed by Transmedia, Powertel and Africom, has applied for a fixed network licence. Experts say the company already has the primary infrastructure to start operations.

The Zimbabwe Independent has since established that Shumba does not have the basic equipment to start a fixed network. Contrary to his claims that his C&C08 line exchange in Newlands has 112 000 lines, it has been established that the equipment housed at Central Films Laboratory can only hold just over 100 lines.

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