THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has invited bids for the construction of 100 mobile network base stations targeting unserviced areas so as to expand network coverage in the country.
In a tender statement at the weekend, Potraz said qualified firms should submit their expressions of interest by September 20, 2019 for designing, construction and commissioning of shared telecommunications towers and related infrastructure.
The projects would be funded using resources from the Universal Services Fund (USF), a pool of funds contributed by companies in the telecommunications sector and meant for the development and provision of telecommunications in under-serviced areas.
“In pursuit of its mandate under the Universal Services Fund, Potraz intends to extend rural coverage by constructing 100 base stations in uncovered rural and remote areas in Zimbabwe.
“The base station passive infrastructure should accommodate the existing three mobile network operators and provide spare capacity for additional operators,” said Potraz.
“The project is planned to be implemented as a turnkey vendor financed Build and Transfer joint venture agreement. The supplier undertakes the financing and construction of the project and after its completion hands it over to Potraz. Potraz reimburses the total project investment on the basis of an agreed schedule.”
The regulator said a formal request for proposal will be issued following a review of the Expressions of Interest received and that qualifying interested parties will be notified to submit proposals for the project.
The successful implementation of the projects is expected to help improve access to telecommunication services and enhance overall development in the outlying communities.
In determining which areas benefit from the USF, Potraz liaises with relevant Government ministries, Members of Parliament and other stakeholders in the postal and telecommunications sectors to identify least serviced areas in each province excluding Harare and Bulawayo.
Targeted areas are then surveyed with the assistance of licensed operators before funds are disbursed for any project that is meant to bring universal access to the public living in un-serviced areas.
Other purposes of the USF include assisting in the training of personnel in the provision of postal and telecommunication services and contributing towards research and development in the same field.